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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."

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  • 1

    Interview: 2012

    Terez

    For a complete catalog of Brandon's tweets, visit the Twitter Portal at Brandon's website.

    Brandon Sanderson (12 March 2011)

    And lo, 1% of A Memory of Light done, as per my website progress bar. My reading's been slow this last month, but I made up for it by working on a scene.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Here! A (kind of) screenshot of the beginning of the end of the Wheel of Time. http://twitpic.com/48wm4n

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    For those asking: Yes, I write in courier. I apprenticed as a writer during an era where it was still the standard among the old guard.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I also underline instead of italicize, use "--" instead of an emdash, and have habits relating to other old-school typesetting artifacts.

    TROLLOC TALK

    Will you hold a new charity contest for A Memory of Light, but this time for Trolloc/Dreadlord/Darkfriend names? We think you should.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I WILL hold a new contest like that. Likely to help fund Jordancon.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (14 MARCH)

    People are asking about the files in the picture I posted on Saturday. The one that says "Alan Outline NEW" references Alan, RJ's assistant.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Alan is a member of "Team Jordan" and was the one who compiled the original outline for A Memory of Light using all of the files and scenes RJ had.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I have taken it and changed things around a lot, added to it, and it has evolved over the years. But it is the Memory of Light outline.

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  • 2

    Interview: 2012

    Brandon Sanderson (7 September 2011)

    Sometimes, it feels like cheating to have Alan and Maria (Robert Jordan's assistants) to look things up for me on these books.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    For example, Alan is a military history buff, and has been my personal "Great Captain" for A Memory of Light, giving valuable advice on tactics.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Finished a really awesome scene today, and started one that turned out meh. I'll have to rework that one come this evening.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Not counting that scene, but counting the awesome one, A Memory of Light is at 52% done now.

    JOHN UNDERWOOD

    52%? That's great! I'm wondering though how did you come up with that number?

    JOHN UNDERWOOD

    Do you have a specific number of pages in mind to finish the book?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've used 300k words as a rough estimate for each of these books for getting the % bar.

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  • 3

    Interview: 2010

    Brandon Sanderson (2 July 2010)

    Thank goodness for Maria and Alan. Every time I start to think I know the WoT world pretty well, they prove that I've got a long way to go.

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  • 4

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Dragonmount

    Do you often correct inconsistencies in the books? Or does Robert do it himself?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    No, I don't correct inconsistencies. Robert has a wonderful assistant, Maria Simons, who helps enormously in this regard, together with her sidekick Alan Romanczuk. Robert writes long lists of questions for them, and they come up with the answers in time, so that inconsistencies mostly just don't happen. Maria also checks all proper nouns in the manuscript against our own super-glossary, and picks up the occasional glitch that way.

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  • 5

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    Laurel, Mississippi

    How much of your writing time is actually writing, and how much is spent rereading and researching?

    Robert Jordan

    I actually have an assistant to do as much of the research as I can. Most of the writing time is writing and rewriting, because I'm never satisfied with what I've written.

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  • 6

    Interview: Dec 27th, 2007

    Question

    Is the book going to be as good as it would have been if Mr. Jordan had written it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I have to be honest. I'm not Mr. Jordan. He's the master, and I'm just a journeyman. He's one of the greatest fantasy authors the genre has ever known. I can't hope to write with his skill and power at this stage in my career—and I think there are very, very few writers who could.

    Fortunately, I don't have to do this on my own. I have seen the notes, as I mentioned above, and I find them very reassuring. Let me put forth a metaphor for you.

    Pretend you have purchased an expensive violin from a master craftsman. It probably wouldn't surprise you to discover that one of the craftsman's apprentices helped create that violin. The master may have had the apprentice sand, or apply varnish, or perhaps shape some of the less important pieces of wood. In fact, if you looked at the violin before master craftsman handed it off to his apprentice, it might just look like a pile of wood to you, and not an instrument at all.

    However, the master craftsman did the most important parts. He shaped the heart of the violin, crafting the pieces which would produce the beautiful sound. He came up with the design for the violin, as well as the procedures and processes used in creating his violins. It's not surprising that some other hands were involved in the busywork of following those procedures and designs, once the most important work was done. And so, even though the apprentice helped, the violin can proudly bear the master's signature and stamp.

    It's the same with this book. What I've been given may not look like a novel to you, but it excites me because I can see the book Mr. Jordan was creating. All of the important chunks are there in such detail that I feel like I've read the completed novel, and not just an outline. Yes, there is still quite a bit of work to be done. Many of the less important scenes are there only as a framework of a few sentences. However, Mr. Jordan left behind the design of this book. I am convinced that between myself, his wife (who was his editor), and his assistants, we can complete this book to be very, very close to the way he would have done.

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  • 7

    Interview: Mar 27th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    People ask me if working on this book is surreal. Before, I always said yes, but I don't think it really hit me HOW strange this is until these last few days.

    Yesterday evening, I pulled out the electronic versions of the novels that Mr. Jordan's assistant sent with me when I left Charleston. I combined them all into a single word document to use in searching. (It clocks in at 9,300 pages and about 3 million words, if you're curious.) Using Microsoft Word's search features, I can call up all sorts of useful information from the entire series at the touch of a few keys. (By the way, thanks for sending those electronic files, Alan! You thought of this a full three months before I ended up needing them. I guess that's the sign of an excellent assistant.)

    In compiling this document and setting a few bookmarks at important points (mostly the beginning of each book) I hesitated at the copyright statement of A Crown of Swords. He's a book I read over ten years ago, a book by an author I idolized. A distant and unapproachable figure, a hero himself, the one spearheading the epic fantasy movement of my era. And now I have a copy of the original file he typed and I'm working on finishing his last book.

    That, my friends, seems to DEFINE the word surreal to me.

    I was shocked the first time the people at Tor called this a collaboration. By publishing terms, I guess that's indeed what it is—a collaboration, where two authors work on a single novel. But to me, the term just felt strange. Collaborating with Robert Jordan seemed to set me too high in the process. I'm finishing the Master's work for him, since he is unable to. I kind of feel like Sam, carrying Frodo the last few paces up the mountain. Robert Jordan did all the work; for most of these twenty years, I've only been an observer. I'm just glad I could be here to help for the last stretch when I was needed.

    For those of you who wondered, I HAVE read Knife of Dreams and New Spring, but I haven't yet posted blog reactions to them. I read faster than I could keep up on the blog. (I've often noted that I'm really not that great a blogger.) I'll post reactions to these books as I go. For now, I need to get back to Book Twelve.

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  • 8

    Interview: Apr 9th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    As you might have noticed, things have been a tad dead here this week. That's because I've been out here in Charleston visiting Robert Jordan's house. Harriet, Alan, Maria, and I have been working on things for Book Twelve, and there was also a panel at The Citadel (where Mr. Jordan went to college) about Mr. Jordan and his effect on the fantasy genre. Harriet wanted me to be part of it, and I was very happy to do so. (David Drake also flew in to sit on the panel. I know it was video taped; I don't know if it will get posted anywhere. If it does, I'll try to get a link up here for you all.)

    Regardless, it's been a busy few days. I flew out on Monday and have to be back on Thursday to teach my class. However, we've put our time to very good use, working out the outline for Book Twelve. (There were some holes in the plot and questions about characters we needed to work through.) Maria put it best with some of these holes: It's like we're putting together a jigsaw. We need to sift through Mr. Jordan's notes and figure out what he wanted to have happen, then figure out the best way to make it happen.

    This, of course, is only for the sections that are more ambiguous. We're doing our best to make certain this book has as much of Mr. Jordan in it as possible.

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  • 9

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 2008

    Wilson Grooms

    Family, friends and fans of fantasy gathered at The Citadel on Tuesday 8 April 2008 to dedicate a permanent memorial to my brother/cousin, James Oliver Rigney, Jr. This was a celebration of Jim's life and his work. I would be lying were I to tell you I was looking forward to the event. We had assembled only a few weeks earlier at the Citadel to induct Jim into the South Carolina Author's Hall of Fame. That evening had propelled me back to the awful moments in September when we lost Jim. Both Harriet and I were in dread of the same happening yet again. It didn't. Rather the opposite.

    Harriet had told us all, Onward, still she and I (and I'm sure the rest of the family) were mired in that part of grieving that causes us to hang on, denial. Only a day before, Harriet had rolled up her sleeves and dove headlong into the first chapter of A Memory of Light. She, Jim's loyal staff and Brandon were hard at work on the book. She called me to share that and her excitement was obvious. She sounded like a new woman. Harriet told me that she finally knew that Jim wasn't coming back. That doesn't mean that she doesn't still hurt. The hurt will never totally subside, but now it doesn't interfere with going "onward". Indeed it helps to maintain purpose and focus.

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  • 10

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 2008

    Wilson Grooms

    I teased you before with A Memory of Light. You all know the timing, and that hasn't changed. But as I listened in on the exchange between Harriet, Maria (a walking dictionary of the books), Alan and Brandon, I couldn't help but get even more excited. You all know that Jim told me in great detail, the bones of the book and very vividly described the last scene. Still, listening to the team working collectively on the minute details, hearing the excitement in their voices, feeling the electricity in the room made me want to stay till we were done. I lingered for a moment before leaving watching them sitting around the dining room table where we had shared so many meals, stories and good times. As with most families, our family members have assumed places at the table where we normally sit. I smiled when it struck me that sitting in Jim's place was the man tapped to finish Jim's work, Brandon. I'm sure Jim was smiling too. Onward!

    Wilson

    Brother/Cousin

    4th of 3

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  • 11

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 2008

    Jason Denzel

    We also received some additional words and photos from Alan Romanczuk, one of Jim's assistants. Here's what he writes:

    Alan Romanczuk

    Jim's memorial case was put on permanent display in The Citadel library on the 8th of this month. It's a beautiful piece of work, and is probably worth more than some of the houses in the neighborhood. On display are a variety of artifacts representing different periods of Jim's life, and include photographs, articles of clothing and accessories, weapons, everything one would expect to give insight into the personality and experiences of this complex and fascinating individual.

    Jim's Harriet convened a panel to discuss his life and literary works before an audience that filled one large section of the library. The panel was comprised of [I'm doing this in order of position, from the left, in the photo shown above] David Drake, famous author of fantasy and military science fiction, and friend/admirer of Jim and Harriet's for many years; Brandon Sanderson, talented young fantasy writer who was selected to finish the last volume in the Wheel of Time series; Michael Livingston, Assistant Professor of English at The Citadel, specialist in medieval studies and author in his own right, who is dedicated to ensuring that Robert Jordan's work be recognized by scholars to be among the masterpieces of world mythology; and, standing, Harriet. The discussion lasted about a hour, and included questions and comments from the audience. All in all, it was a stimulating evening, a fitting tribute to Jim, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. It also gave Brandon the opportunity to say for the first time, "Read and Find Out."

    Footnote

    The photos are no longer available online.

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  • 12

    Interview: Aug 9th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    Brandon does read the FAQs collected in various places throughout the internet, and they’re very helpful, though Maria, Alan, and Harriet are the best resource. “So far there have been no chapter-long baths,” Brandon says. [Though at this point I can only guess what that comment was in response to.] There are many mysteries explained in the notes, and some are specifically labeled as not to be revealed in the books. Some character relationships will also go unresolved. Just because the books get all written doesn’t mean the characters’ lives and problems don’t continue on. The Wheel of Time turns. However, Tom mentions at this point that the planned Mat–Tuon trilogy to follow the series was already under contract.

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  • 13

    Interview: Sep 30th, 2008

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've begun to get pages back on the sections of A Memory of Light I sent to Harriet, and the responses are very encouraging. There are things I need to change, of course, but that's the case in any book. Mostly, she's asked me to be more descriptive in places. We've also got Alan and Maria working full time catching inconsistencies and the like. But I'm really enjoying the process. Harriet is a world class editor—she really is great at what she does.

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  • 14

    Interview: Jan 22nd, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    The work proceeds nicely. The Wheel of Time book is interesting in that I've got a LOT of different types of feedback on it. There's Harriet, of course, but also Mr. Jordan's two assistants, Maria and Alan. They are continuity experts, and have been going through the pages I've done and have been fact checking and giving feedback on general issues as well. I had worried that having three editors on this project would make it more difficult to work on, but so far it's simply been a big help. There is SO much going on in this book and this world that having the extra sets of eyes is very helpful.

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  • 15

    Interview: Mar 13th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'm making progress on these A Memory of Light edits, slowly but surely. It's a lot more time-consuming than other books I've edited for several reasons. First off, I've got a lot of input coming in from Charleston. I receive feedback on every chapter not just from Harriet, but from Alan and Maria as well. It's all very good advice, but it's like juggling three editors on the same project, each with different specialties. The sheer organization of it all can be daunting sometimes.

    Recently—today and yesterday—I spent producing some new material for the first time in a while. One of the issues with revisions like this is that sometimes, Harriet and the others point out holes in the story which require new scenes to patch properly. As such, I've been 'spot writing' so to speak, crafting new scenes. Some are holes I knew were there and intended to patch, others were holes I left thinking that they would be all right—that readers would make the leap from one scene to another without the bridge scene. In one case, it's a scene I hadn't realized everyone would want to see, but they really do, so I've started work on it. I expect this to continue for the next few days, so you might see the main "A Memory of Light" progress bar inch up a few points. It's at 110% right now. (Which means 440k of completed manuscript, not counting some scenes that Mr. Jordan worked on that haven't yet happened in the chronology.)

    The basic estimate for the final length remains the same as it has since about last summer. 750k words. I'll let you know if I think that needs to be revised, but I really won't be able to guess until I've completed more of the manuscript. As I've warned, also, keep an eye on Dragonmount and Tor.com for official announcements related to the Wheel of Time. I'd guess that something will pop up in the next several weeks.

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  • 16

    Interview: Apr 13th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    This weekend I'll be in Atlanta for JordanCon. I'm expecting to be so busy with the convention that I didn't set up any kind of external signing. I'm still thinking of heading to Atlanta for DragonCon this year, though, and if I do, I'll try to do an off-site signing for those who are interested. However, if you really want something signed—or want to hear about A Memory of Light (including, I believe, an advance reading from The Gathering Storm) come by JordanCon. I think it's going to be very fun.

    The Gathering Storm goes very well; I'm still working through last-stage revisions from Harriet, Alan, and Maria. I finished Alan's today and sent them off to him for commentary. Harriet's are almost all inputted, and I'm about 3/4 the way through Maria's. I should have this all wrapped up by the time JordanCon rolls around.

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  • 17

    Interview: May 15th, 2009

    Dave Brendon

    How has it been working so closely with Harriet? Granted, you are in different States, but you know what I mean. :-)

    Brandon Sanderson

    Harriet is a world class editor–she really is great at what she does. I’ve had several opportunities to meet with her in person–she, and Mr. Jordan’s staff, are awesome. His two assistants, Maria and Alan, are continuity experts and went through my completed manuscript pages fact checking and giving feedback on general issues as well. I had worried that having three editors on this project would make it more difficult to work on, but so far it’s simply been a big help. There is so much going on in this book and this world that having the extra sets of eyes is very helpful.

    I’ve really enjoyed the process. At the beginning, after I read all the notes and explained to the team my feelings on the various outlines for the different characters, Harriet pretty much let me call the shots when it came to the actual drafting of the novel. As an editor, she works best when I provide material to her, then she works her magic to turn it from good to excellent. When I turned manuscript pages in, and she came back to me with line edits—where she goes through and tweaks the language of the book—it quickly became obvious what a pro she is and how much she loves this series. It’s truly an honor to work with her.

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  • 18

    Interview: Jun 1st, 2009

    Damon Cap

    As you were doing the book, the Wheel of Time stuff, and you have all your notes and everything, was there any, like...funny stories? Was there anything when you go back and forth...like, obviously you have all these notes, you're dealing with a bunch of different people, and whenever you're doing any sort of artistic endeavor... Were there any sort of, like...

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've got a good story for you. One time, I was trying to keep track of everyone who was with the character Perrin. You guys know Perrin. So Perrin's off doing this thing, and one of the biggest challenges of writing the Wheel of Time books was the sheer number of characters. Not the main characters—I know the main characters, they're my friends, I grew up with these people, I know them just like hanging out with my high school buddies—but keeping track of all the Aes Sedai, and the Wise Ones, and you know, the Asha'man, and all these various people that are all over the place and saying, "OK. Who is with Perrin and who is with Rand, and who is..."

    Anyway. I sent an email off to Team Jordan. You know, Harriet and Maria and Alan who are the... They were two editorial assistants that worked directly with Robert Jordan. Maria and Alan. I think it was Alan I sent an email to, and I said, "Do you have just like a list of everybody? I can go compile one of my own, I'm planning to do it, but if you have one already that says, 'These are the people who are with Perrin.' If you've got something like that." And he said, "I found this thing in the notes buried several files in." And things like this. "Here. I found this. Maybe this is what you want." And he sent me this, and it was called "with Perrin." I thought, "OK. Perfect." I open up this file and it's actually not what I wanted. Instead it is dozens of names of people who haven't appeared in the books yet. These are all the names of all the Two Rivers folk who are with Perrin. Like there are two hundred or so. Just names. Listed off. That have never appeared in the books. Sometimes with their profession, and a little about them, and things like that. And it just blew my mind that there was all of this detail that Robert Jordan had put into this world that nobody sees—and he wasn't planning for them to see. He's not going to have a big list of names in the final book; he wasn't planning that. He just needed to know their names so that he knew that he had them. And this is the level of detail and world-building that Robert Jordan did. I got a big chuckle out of that. Just, list of names. Then I started stealing them like a thief so I had good names that he had come up with, that I could use in the books.

    DAMON CAP

    Are you using them for other characters or using them for people...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I'm mostly using them where he intended them to be. Because he had other lists of names for... As the book has progressed and I've discovered these little notes files... Because the notes, there are huge, massive amounts of notes. We say there are about two hundred manuscript pages of stuff done for Gathering...for A Memory of Light. The three books. But beyond that, there are hundreds of thousands of words worth of just background notes, of world-building notes, of things like that. When we say the notes for the book, we're talking about actual specifics to A Memory of Light. But there are hundreds of thousands of other notes; there's just too much for one person to even deal with. So I let the two assistants dig through that. And so once I found out that there were lists of names, I started getting those files so I could use his names in places where we had them. So that I would have to name fewer and fewer people. Because his naming conventions are very distinctive. And, you know, I don't think... I think if you were to read, you could probably tell which names are mine and which are his, because we name things differently. And I'm trying to use his wherever I can, just to give that right feel to the book.

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  • 19

    Interview: Oct 16th, 2009

    Maria Simons

    In January of 1996 I went to work for Jim to answer fan mail. And the job just kept evolving and evolving, and I became what he called his right arm.

    Alan Romanczuk

    My name is Alan Romanczuk. I started working for Jim about eight years ago. I was brought on for continuity. By the time I came on, there were well over 1500 characters in the Wheel of Time world.

    Maria Simons

    I know what happened to whom and when. I can amaze people by remembering people's eye color and hair color. And if there's something we need to check happened, I can find it pretty quickly; pick up a book, flip to the page, and get it.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Developing timelines, coordinating action and characters. Measuring distances from one location in the world to another. All of that nitty gritty detail that has to be done, someone has to do it. This translated in his filing system to something I had never encountered before. He had what I could only describe as a maze-like hierarchical system of files.

    Maria Simons

    Brandon has been great. And he's got three of us that are emailing him, and we're doing this constantly, now for over a year.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Poor Brandon, who is an enormous gentleman as well as a very, very good writer. The material that Robert Jordan left begins with the outline for what will now be the final three books. Notes, some scenes, and more words in unpublished notes than have been published so far in the entire Wheel of Time.

    Brandon Sanderson

    And he left behind tapes, recordings, which were then dictated and transcribed and given to me, of him just talking about the last book and what he wanted to be in it. And the important events, and the important scenes, and all these things. All these materials were. . . you know, you've got a file here that's only got a few paragraphs in it, and a file here that's thirty pages long, and a file here, and a file here. Dozens of different files, just scattered all over the place, some about all these characters, and some about 'oh this scene needs to happen'. And then lots and lots and lots and lots of notes of how everybody ends up. The thing we have I think the most information on is, the two things: the world itself, everything in the world, all the characters. And then, how everything has to be. We know very specifically lots about how the world is going to end up.

    Maria Simons

    It picks up where Knife of Dreams left off. As for the rest, read and find out. I've always wanted to say it.

    Alan Romanczuk

    I think there's one thing we can safely say, though. The Last Battle is coming.

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  • 20

    Interview: Oct 20th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    Just to give you an idea of the depth of what's going on in these books, and the level of detail that Robert Jordan put into them: there was one point where I was working on a character, working on a scene. And I was just having trouble keeping track of all the characters that were involved in the scene, just all the different names and all the different personalities, and things like this.

    So I emailed one of Robert Jordan's assistants, and I said, "Is there a file or something that explains everybody who's here that's going to be in the scene so that I can keep them all straight?" And a few minutes later I got back an email from Alan who said, "Well I found this, buried in some notes somewhere." And it said 'with. . . ', and then it listed the name of the character. And I’m like, oh good, it's a file called 'who's with this character'. That's exactly what I needed.

    I opened it up, and what this file contained was a list of dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds, of names of people who hadn't yet appeared in the books, who were just members of this character's army, who were just there. Robert Jordan had named them all, and in many cases he'd listed their profession, a little bit about them, what they looked like. Now I had to keep track of all these other people who he hadn't even named yet. They hadn't even appeared in the book, fans didn't know about them, and I've got dozens of names of people to keep track of that he had spent the time to go through and say, all right, what are the names of all these people who might just walk by in the background.

    So much detail, so much depth to these books, that really when you read these books you don't even know how much there was behind them, filling this out. Robert Jordan knew this world, he knew these people. He knew them so well that they were real to him.

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  • 21

    Interview: Oct 21st, 2009

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    On October 27, Book 12 of The Wheel of Time, The Gathering Storm, goes on sale nationally. Completed by Brandon Sanderson from notes and partials left by Robert Jordan, it is very good. I was its editor, as I was editor on ALL the Wheel books, and Maria Simons, Jordan's right hand for over 12 years, and Alan Romanczuk, Jordan's left hand (just because you can't have two right hands unless you are ... Shiva, is it?) have worked very closely with Brandon as well. We three—Harriet, Maria, and Alan—have really worked as Team Jordan on this book, and will do so on the following two, which will complete the Wheel. Book 13 will be titled Towers of Midnight, and Book 14 will be A Memory of Light.

    Even Jordan couldn't have written everything he left in one volume, although he thought he could. But you recall that he thought he could write the entire Wheel in six volumes.

    Try The Gathering Storm. I think you'll like it a lot. I do.

    Best,
    Harriet McDougal

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  • 22

    Interview: Oct 21st, 2009

    Wilson Grooms

    Update: Some additional comments from Wilson:

    I was a Jordan fan before he was Jordan. The Warrior God was my childhood idol, the big brother I didn't have. Love is too weak a word to describe my feelings for Jim. I would do anything for him and would defend him with my life. That includes defending his work. Saying that, I could not be more pleased with the work done by Team Jordan: Harriet, Brandon, Maria and Alan. The Gathering Storm masterfully continues Jim's story in a manner that would be pleasing to the creator himself. There are countless "oh my!" moments. The pace is staggering. I fear that there will be many WOT fans who will lose sleep on the 27th because they just won't be able to find a stopping point.

    I said before on this blog, that I loved Jim for bringing Harriet into my life. A grander lady there is not. Still what she has done in orchestrating and beautifully completing Jim's work has raised her stock even more. Love you sis. The Warrior Angel is surely smiling.

    Congratulations to Team Jordan. Can't wait till next year.

    Wilson
    Brother/Cousin
    4th of 3

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  • 23

    Interview: Nov 9th, 2009

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    They are already working on the encyclopedia and may or may not have an electronic version (currently no plans for one, but I asked about it and it's not ruled out).

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  • 24

    Interview: Nov 9th, 2009

    Brandon Sanderson

    The timeline is in a spreadsheet but it will likely not be published since it is very rough and Jim did not like his unfinished works published.

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  • 25

    Interview: Nov 13th, 2009

    Question

    How's Towers of Midnight coming?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Towers of Midnight is 70% done.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Harriet's answer: "If I can quote Robert Jordan, I can assure you without fear of contradiction, that Towers of Midnight will be on the shelves very shortly after Brandon finishes writing it."

    Brandon Sanderson

    "This is a very, very...there's a lot of work involved. People assume that when I was given the outline, I was given a point by point outline. RJ wasn't like that. He wouldn't show it to Harriet until he'd done twelve drafts. We got this in a state of incompleteness. The creative process isn't as neat and orderly. Things were in dozens of files."

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Brandon would say "what order do you want it in?" and I would say "Brandon, you're the writer. It's foolish for the editor to take over the part of the writer. And vice versa."

    Brandon Sanderson

    He dictated some and the assistants transferred it into notes, scoured their memory for anything he'd said and put that in the notes. And then all the files... "this was all handed to me and told 'ok, let's write a book.'"

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  • 26

    Interview: Nov 15th, 2009

    Question

    What is your favorite scene that you got to add?

    Brandon Sanderson

    "I'm not saying which scenes I added and which parts are Jordan's until all three books are out." He has lots and lots of notes left by Robert Jordan, which aren't organized. No one really knew how Robert Jordan was organizing his work. Some files had only sentences, some whole paragraphs and whole scenes. His assistants, Maria and others, what Brandon calls "his own personal Brown Ajah" started asking Robert Jordan questions about all of the characters, where they would end up and how they got there. So Brandon has so much information all jumbled together without any order. And it's his job to take all that and make a book.

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  • 27

    Interview: Mar 19th, 2010

    Luckers

    Were you aware of the Wheel of Time prior to taking it on as a job? Had you read it?

    Maria Simons

    Back in 1991, I was visiting my husband's family. My young brother-in-law (14 at the time) showed me this huge book. "You have to read it. It's great! And it was written by our cousin!" (That's not quite accurate. Harriet's aunt married my husband's great-uncle, so there are shared cousins, but no actual blood relationship. But in Charleston, it's close enough to claim). He kept on and on, so finally I picked it up just to get him off my back. That book was The Eye of the World, and I loved it. I ran out and bought copies of Eye and The Great Hunt and sent them to my husband (he was in Panama on military duty). I also read The Great Hunt, of course. After that, we eagerly awaited each book, and grabbed them as soon as possible (by this time I had joined my husband in Panama). When we visited Charleston, my husband would head over to Harriet and Jim's and get them autographed. I don't know why I never went; it probably had something to do with having two small children. I finally met Jim at a family gathering in 1994; I managed to contain myself and not go all fangirl on him, but I did enjoy talking to him. By that time, I had read Eye at least six times, The Great Hunt five, The Dragon Reborn four, etc.

    Luckers

    Ok, so once you started reading the series what was it that really got you hooked?

    Maria Simons

    I'm a character-driven reader, so any book that hooks me does so primarily because of the characters. So, on the first go, it was the characters that grabbed me. The world-building and lovely convoluted plot with so many mysteries didn't hurt, either. I just loved the books.

    Luckers

    Do you still do frequent re-reads? How many times would you say you've read the series to date?

    Maria Simons

    I don't actually read the books straight through anymore. I did read The Eye of the World after Jim died, but usually I read them in bits and pieces. A lot of times when I'm trying to answer a question from Brandon or fans, I'll get distracted from my search and find a scene that I love, and read it. At one point, I worked out that I had read The Eye of the World at least 20 times. It's kind of scary, sometimes; when I'm looking for a particular scene, I pick up the book, open it, and I'm at the scene that I'm looking for. Sometimes Alan and I race; he searches the digital copy for something, and I pick up the book. I frequently win.

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  • 28

    Interview: Mar 19th, 2010

    Luckers

    What did you do for Robert Jordan as a part of that job, and how much as that changed since his passing?

    Maria Simons

    My job has constantly evolved. First there was fanmail and filing. Then the audiobook project got underway, and someone had to go through and mark all of the changes in point of view so that Michael Kramer could read the male POVs and Kate Reading could read the female ones. Jim decided that I could do that, so, much to my delight, I was getting paid to read The Wheel of Time. I was in hog heaven, of course. At that time, Jim was finishing up A Crown of Swords, and when the proofs came in, Harriet suggested that I assist in going through them, but Jim said no, he didn't want to spoil me. I was crushed. Over the next year or so, though, my job broadened. He gave me the in-house glossary to tidy up, and some of his notes to consolidate. He also would give me lists of questions like "Has character A ever met Character B?" and "Give me three examples of character C's speech" and "Find me all of the information you can on what a baby feels as he's being born." By the time he had The Path of Daggers ready to give to Harriet for editing, I had convinced him that I could help with maintaining our house glossary going forward, and he decided that I would get the pages at the same time Harriet did. Harriet encouraged me to edit as well, and I would do that and pass the pages on to her. I don't know if any of my edits made it into the final book, but Harriet did begin recommending me for freelance editing.

    I did other things as well. Jim had a massive personal library, and mentioned that he would love for it to be cataloged; I cobbled together a classification system, using WordPerfect mail merge. I also cataloged his music collection, and kept the existing catalog of movies updated. I did shopping for him, arranged appointments, worked on the Wizards of the Coast RPG and the New Spring comics. When the new cat went missing, I made and put up posters in the neighborhood (we found her hiding under the house, eventually); when cranes and herons started stealing goldfish, I was given fox urine to spread around the pond to discourage them (Jim did encourage me to delegate; I managed to pass that one on to someone else. It smelled so bad that that idea was soon abandoned and we covered the fish pond with a net. I still sometimes find huge birds staring hungrily at the fish when I walk out there). Eventually I took over the bookkeeping as well. He took to calling me his right arm. Over time, I picked up assistants, two of whom are still with me: Marcia Warnock, who took over the book catalog, spread the fox urine, keeps me in office supplies, handles all the annoying phone calls, and keeps me on schedule; and Alan Romanczuk, who took over the questions and research, became our IT specialist, and assists with the bookkeeping, among many other things.

    Then, after the Knife of Dreams tour, Jim was diagnosed with amyloidosis. Our focus changed somewhat; we all worked to help him and Harriet as much as we could. After the night that Jim told the ending to Wilson and Harriet, I would sit and talk with him about the end of the series, with a tape recorder running. The last thing that we did together was select the winners of the calendar art contest. Note: I didn't select, I just gave him the art and took notes, and then emailed the winning names to Tor. That was two days before his death.

    The significant thing that has changed about my job since then is that Jim isn't here. It's quieter—there is no big, booming voice calling "Maria!" or singing as he comes in the office. There's no one explaining military stuff to me and making it really clear and interesting. There's no one sitting at his desk wearing a silly hat. What I do at my job hasn't changed that much. Now I work directly for Harriet, who is as wonderful a boss as Jim was. When Brandon has questions about the books, I work on finding answers, as does Alan. When Brandon sends us a book, I go through it looking for continuity errors, just as I did with Jim, and suggesting other changes, just as before. I still do the bookkeeping with Alan's help, and other banal stuff. I know a lot more fans now, of course; I went to JordanCon, DragonCon, and the Charleston and New York booksignings for The Gathering Storm. I can hardly wait until JordanCon 2, which as I type is 11 weeks and 1 day away.

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  • 29

    Interview: Mar 19th, 2010

    Luckers

    I always knew Team Jordan was a close-knit group, but I get the sense from this that Jordan Estate was more like its own little community, with Jim as a sort of patriarch and all of you working to support each other. Was this how it was for you? And did this help you all in the wake of Jim's passing?

    Maria Simons

    Heh. That's more or less it, but . . . let me tell you a story. One day, many years ago, I went into Jim's office. While there, I mentioned some problem that I was having (I have no idea what it was; it was that long ago). Jim immediately proceeded to give me chapter and verse on what to do. I answered that I was going to think about it more, and then went upstairs to my office. A few minutes passed, and then there was the booming "Maria!" from the bottom of the stairs. I went out, and he said that he was sorry for going all patriarchal on me, that I was a grown, capable woman and that I should do what I thought best. I hadn't even thought twice about it, but he was worried that he had overstepped his bounds. Therefore, I hesitate to call him a patriarch. He was our leader.

    So we all worked together. It's a strange little group, sort of random, but not really. Harriet was at my wedding; she appears in some of the pictures taken. Jim may have been there (really, most of that day is a blur in my memory), but he was probably off writing. Marcia was once my husband's boss. She and I share the same birthday, and almost no one can tell us apart when we answer the phone. Alan's son went to the same school as my sons; I became friends with his wife before I ever met him, and he later coached my son's tennis team (It was at a tennis match that his wife suggested he might be interested in working with us). We're coworkers, yes, but we are friends too. We watch out for each other, and we've always joked that we're more like a family than a business. Dealing with Jim's illness brought us all even closer. We pulled together, and supported each other. And yes, it very much did help us when he died, and since.

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  • 30

    Interview: Mar 19th, 2010

    Luckers

    Are you and Harriet working on the encylopedia now, or is that more of a 'after everything is done' kind of thing?

    Maria Simons

    Harriet, Alan, Marcia and I have all put in some work on the encyclopedia. If there's nothing else pressing, we work on it. Of course, there's no way that we can finish it before the series is finished; once A Memory of Light is done, we'll kick it into high gear.

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  • 31

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 2010

    Question

    You and Alan have worked on WoT for many years. Beyond that are there any other projects that you are looking at editing beyond the WoT?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    The encyclopedia is sort of beyond the WoT, sort of a 'fifth wheel' (laughter), and I'll definitely be looking forward to that. Meanwhile there's a project with a fellow Charlestonian that I'm eager to get off the ground. (more from audio)

    Alan Romanczuk

    We have a session specifically on the encyclopedia tomorrow. After WoT I think I look forward to working more in my garden and to continuing my career as a professional cabaret singer.

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  • 32

    Interview: Apr 14th, 2010

    Nick Smith

    By contrast, Charlestonians tended to treat Rigney like a regular fellow. When his first Wheel of Time best-seller The Eye of the World came out in 1990, they would greet him with, "Hi Jim, are you still writing?"

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    While McDougal admits that they could have lived a quiet life anywhere if they'd chosen, Charleston was their home and a place where Rigney could work at his own, often breakneck, pace. Every day he would get up, have breakfast, then pad down the yard to his desk in his carriage house. The pages he forged there were packed with intense battle scenes, dense interwoven plots, and a vast cast of characters. This material was tempered by McDougal, Rigney's assistant Maria Simons, and series continuity manager Alan Romanczuk.

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  • 33

    Interview: Apr 28th, 2010

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    So, I got Alan and Maria cornered and did a joint interview with them, which was fun. After that, I went to the "What an Editor Does" panel with Harriet and Paul Stevens. Funny thing, Harriet had a slide show she wanted to show, but there was no projector, nor did that have a computer that would easily display it (Alan had a MacBook, but it was a Powerpoint slide show and no one was willing to trust the reader he had). I ran to the front desk and got the projector on its way, and then went up and snagged my laptop. This seemed amazingly fitting, as you can tell from this picture of my laptop's lid. (Yes, that is an older picture of the laptop, but it looks the same now, so shush).

    The panel was really interesting, by the by. Harriet and Paul really took us into the editor side of things, and not just on the "why do they pick this book or that" or the "how we line-edit" processes. No, we got to see the scary worksheets they have to fill out explaining to Tom Doherty and marketing why Tor should buy the book, samples of manuscripts at various stages of production, and even the cover art summary letter that was sent to Darrell Sweet for The Fires of Heaven with some of the subsequent back and forth correspondence (which we are assured is not really all that common nowadays). Some interesting things that were mentioned was how Tor actually expects to take a loss on a brand new author because they are in the business of building writers' careers, not just making a quick buck on a single book. To this end, Tor actually tends to sign even their new authors with multi-book contracts.

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  • 34

    Interview: Apr 22nd, 2009

    Richard Fife

    So, after we finally forced ourselves up, I had the wonderful and great treat of striking up conversation with Alan, a kindred computer wrangler. We then went to the bar (gratefully of the OPEN variety) and had drinks, and additionally were joined by Wilson. That was in general a wonderful conversation that covered many many many things, from all topics in life and WoT. I will tell you one thing though. What eventually came from the discussion and later into "the know", we have deduced and decided the proper way for Asha'man pins to be worn. The sword is on the left collar, with the blade pointed towards your chin (and thus the curve of the blade opening up.) The dragon is on the right collar, facing your chin as well.

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  • 35

    Interview: Apr 22nd, 2009

    Richard Fife

    Day Three: Sunday

    I wake up at Seven. Again, don't ask why. I get my things packed up and out to my car, then go and have breakfast with Alan and his wife. Much fun conversation and discussion. Oh, and I will stop being mean, no I did not learn any secrets that I cannot tell you during all my hobnobbing with Team Jordan. They are very tight-lipped, and even delighted in taunting us.

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    alan,
  • 36

    Interview: May 12th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    When did you first meet Jim, and when did you get involved with The Wheel of Time?

    Alan Romanczuk

    In 2001, I was hired on recommendation of Maria Simons, who had worked for Jim for years at that point. I had known Maria through our children going to the same school. Maria's work had gotten to the point where she couldn't keep doing the research for Jim—the continuity work, looking up obscure facts—because of all her other responsibilities. So, I was brought on to pretty much take on that aspect of what Maria had been doing.

    I met Jim the day I came in. He was sitting at his desk and stood up, and we had a nice little chat about pipe smoking and fantasy, a little bit of this and that, and I then went upstairs to my little burrow in the back of the carriage house, where I've remained for many years.

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  • 37

    Interview: May 12th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    Do you have a particularly favorite scene in the books?

    Alan Romanczuk

    My favorite scene is in the fourteenth book. About two-thirds of the way through, there is this fantastic scene . . . .

    Richard Fife

    I'm afraid I haven't read that one yet.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Well, the Last Battle will knock you dead. It will be great.

    Richard Fife

    They do say it will break the world.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Or the bank, whichever comes first.

    Richard Fife

    So, in the published books?

    Alan Romanczuk

    The published books? Ah. I don't have a specifically favorite scene, but in the recent books that Jim had written, the one that comes to mind for me is when Perrin was at his wit's end trying to find his wife and get information on Faile, and he goes to interrogate the captured Shaido they have staked out on the ground. Against all expectations, he chops off the man's limb, and makes it very clear to him that he is not going to kill him, but makes sure he is crippled for the rest of his life and will have to depend on others for his well being.

    What is striking about that is not only the surprise in what happened to Perrin's personality, but the fact that we see the depths of this man who had been operating at an almost emotionless state, or at least with a single, fixed purpose, which was saving his wife. We see him, the peace-loving blacksmith who, just through fate, is thrown into a position of leadership, suddenly do something that is completely out of character, or that we think is out of character, when in fact it is springing from his depths, something that needs to be done. So, in that scene, we see an inkling of Perrin becoming the person that he needs to be to take part in the Last Battle.

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  • 38

    Interview: May 12th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    (long pause) Sorry, I'm flabbergasted by that response. That is a very different interpretation that I'd heard of that before. Going to have to say that yours is probably the canonical one, though.

    So, what was it like working with Robert Jordan?

    Alan Romanczuk

    Working with Jim was a gas. We had the business relationship, where he'd throw a lot of questions at me and I'd throw a lot of answers back at him. I thoroughly enjoyed the way that Jim viewed the world, from what I could see at least. He didn't do anything in small ways. Everything was in large bites, and everything on the table: not just the meat or just the starches. He ate it all, digested it, and it went into his databank. And everything came out of that.

    So, it was just a lot of fun, even to the point of fixing his computer, because if one anti-virus program is good, then three or four running simultaneously is even better. (Note: he made a geek joke. That is why I really like this guy.)

    So it was just a delight to see this mode of operation translated into writing the Wheel of Time as well. You take a single country, or a person from that country. They don't have the characteristics of a single country in our life, but rather he is drawing from half a dozen or more cultures that we are familiar with, combining them in new ways, shaping them to produce a new being which at the same time draws from so many different elements in our life. So that was great.

    And you know, the chats at the end of the day were also wonderful. I would bring him the stock market report on a daily basis and we would either commiserate or celebrate what had happened on that day. There was not a lot of just chit-chat. I tried to respect the time that he put into the books, but at the same time, I was really surprised that he would give as much time as he did instead of writing. If it were me, I'd lock the door and not let anyone in while I was writing, but he was often interrupted while working.

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    alan,
  • 39

    Interview: May 12th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    So now you are working with Brandon. What is that like?

    Alan Romanczuk

    Brandon's a lot of fun. I am really amazed at the way he can create new worlds in his own right. He might not have the worldly experience that Jim did, being much younger. He never went through war as Jim had. He didn't grow up in the South as Jim had. Yet he has been able to jump into this world and pick up where he needs to pick up and go with it. He has a really fresh mind, a lively mind. I see in Brandon his really childlike grasp of fantasy, which is wonderful. And I don't mean childish, I mean childlike, with just an awe and just a total delight in forming new devices and plot twists and new types of characters and scenes. Yeah, it is a lot of fun. He is going to be a well-known author, if he is not already.

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    alan,
  • 40

    Interview: May 12th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    So you are the chronology manager, or "Time Lord" of the Wheel of Time. What has it been like keeping the "what happened when" straight?

    Alan Romanczuk

    It actually has not been that bad to date because Jim himself set up so many timelines as part of the series. It was fun going back in his files and finding literally dozens of timelines of what was going to happen. With his engineer's mind, it was important for him to grasp where every single character was at any given time in the series, know how they were meshing at any specific time in order to allow them to come together as part of the story later on and not be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    So, it was really just a matter of seeing where he was going with things and how he had structured them and tapping into that and then just extending it. You know, the harder part now is that Jim is gone, and so we have to make sure that all these threads fit. You have to know how far a horse can travel in a day, and how far a cart can travel in a day, how far an army can travel in a day, and how many days they can keep that pace. "Oh, Mat has to be at such-and-such a place to be able to meet with this person who is coming in from a totally different area." So there is a lot of taking out the ruler and looking at the map and seeing how many kilometers or miles are between point A and point B.

    Richard Fife

    On that note, do you have a more detailed map at your disposal?

    Alan Romanczuk

    No, we're really working what you see in the book.

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  • 41

    Interview: May 12th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    Brandon has often said there is a "Big Thing" everyone has missed in books four through six. I know this is typically RAFO'd, but is there any hint at all you give us? (At this point the room we were in grows quiet and several people cock their heads, listening.)

    Alan Romanczuk

    No.

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    alan, BUT,
  • 42

    Interview: Jun 7th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    And I know you are working on it very closely with Harriet, Alan, and Maria. What is it like getting the curb-side editing?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Normally, I have a lot of alpha readers on my books. These are people that, once I finish a novel, I let them look at it and give me a reader response. In the case of the Wheel of Time books, most of those were not available to me. We have to keep it quite tightly under wraps and not show it to a lot of people. So, it is nice having multiple editors, both in the form of people who directly edit the book such as Harriet, Alan, and Maria, and also people like Tom Doherty, who has given me some good advice. My normal editor, Moshe Feder, did a read through on this book, and my agent did as well. All of them are giving advice.

    I am immediately juggling Alan, Maria, and Harriet's comments. I'd send a chapter in and then be working on the next one, and that chapter would come back three times with three different sets of revisions on it. That got really challenging to juggle. There was one time when I was flying on a plane to an event for Tor, and I had three separate paper sets of a chapter printed out along with electronic commentary by them on the chapters. So, I was juggling four files and three sets of paper on the same pages, trying to get this all inputted and changed. It got . . . well, it was a juggling act.

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  • 43

    Interview: May 25th, 2010

    Patrick

    Rodel Ituralde and especially Gareth Bryne being blademasters seemed a surprise. Do we know why this information didn't come up before? In addition, Bryne mentions only being an under-captain during the Aiel War when The Eye of the World states he was Captain-General back to Queen Modrellen's day. But then the Big White Book also says that Andor had a different Captain-General during the Aiel War. A case of Robert Jordan changing his mind?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Number one, let's talk about the blademaster issue. I'm not at liberty right now to say what's in the notes and what isn't, but I can tell you I'm drawing from the notes when I'm writing. I don't know why certain things weren't mentioned before in the series.

    Maintaining the Wheel of Time continuity is an enormous task. There are so many questions like "What was Bryne's rank during the Aiel war?" where I ask Maria and Alan and just trust their instincts. There are other ones where they're not even sure.

    Much of the time, when we run into issues like this, it's just me making a mistake. I do apologize for that. I promise you, I have read these books a number of times, but I don't have the type of mind that memorizes facts and repeats them back offhandedly. I have to do a lot of reading each time I write a chapter, and I often make mistakes. A lot of the time, these mistakes come because I HAVE been reading the series for so long. I've got these long-seated impressions of characters and events in my head that go back all the way to my teenage days. And they're not always right. (I didn't learn to pronounce some character names until I was well into my 20s.) Sometimes, I just assume I know something when I've been wrong about it all along. Those are the dangerous ones, since I don't think to look up items like that.

    Anyway, with every printing of the books, Maria goes back in and fixes continuity. It happened when Robert Jordan was writing the books (though not nearly as often as it will when I'm writing them, I suspect). So what can I say about that? Well, Harriet is putting together a comprehensive encyclopedia that will become the definitive answer to these sorts of questions. Until then, I'm letting Team Jordan handle it.

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  • 44

    Interview: Jun 30th, 2010

    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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  • 45

    Interview: Oct 26th, 2010

    Luckers

    How difficult has weaving Towers of Midnight around The Gathering Storm been? Is there a large amount of inter-connectivity? Do we cross back on any events in The Gathering Storm?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, we do cross back on events in The Gathering Storm. The trickiest part was timeline. Robert Jordan had this innate ability to juggle timelines. This is not something he relied on Maria, Alan, or Harriet for; it was something he did on his own, just part of the genius of his brain. All of us are pretty new at this. I mean, I wrote Mistborn chronologically. There wasn’t any time juggling. There was time juggling to do in Elantris, but it was across the course of a single novel. It didn’t get as extensive. For the Wheel of Time, timeline things that Robert Jordan kept in his head are quite incredible, and I have to admit that I’m not as good at it as he was. Perhaps someday I will be able to get to that level, but for now I’m simply not. So working with the timeline has taken a lot of effort. I think we’ve got it so it all worked out. It took a lot of help. Maria, Alan, and others all worked together with me to get things arranged—some of our beta readers were extremely helpful in this—but there is a lot of juggling back and forth. You will see some events from different perspectives. It is not a complete jump back like book ten was. I would say that the book is mostly new material with a few glances at other things that are happening, but we’re moving forward; I’d say 60% of the book is taking place past what happened in The Gathering Storm. And then there’s one timeline in particular where we jump back and catch up—that’s Perrin’s timeline. But it was really challenging.

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  • 46

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2010

    Question

    In the early books, when Mat speaks in the Old Tongue without realizing it, he speaks with a certain voice that seems different from when it happens in Towers of Midnight, why is that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The simple answer is that Mat is now getting more comfortable with who he is and the memories in his head, so it's coming out smoother now. Some of the difference is that the earlier books were completely written by Robert Jordan and I can't know what he was thinking at the time he wrote them.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Also, the Old Tongue is constantly shifting and idiomatic. It is very fluid, and certain words can mean more than just one word. There will be a lot more of the Old Tongue in A Memory of Light and the Encyclopedia. (Old Tongue is one of Alan's specialties!)

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  • 47

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2010

    Question

    RJ was able to write the fighting and military scenes so well because of his military background. How do you deal with those scenes?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I rely a lot on Alan, and I read a lot of military history.

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  • 48

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2010

    Ted Herman

    Regarding timeline in Towers of Midnight, what can you say about how each person's plot arc lined up?

    Maria Simons and Alan Romanczuk

    There was a gap for some of the main story lines for about 1.5-2 weeks of only off-screen activity before the big meetup at Merrilor. Lan's trip from World's End to Tarwin's Gap took 100 days, and it lined him up with the other plotlines at that point. The whole gang can jump right into Tarmon Gai'don!

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  • 49

    Interview: Apr 16th, 2011

    Richard Fife

    We've actually heard Brandon's impressions of what he thought of the ending when he first saw it and read it and heard it. But I can't say I've ever really heard anything beyond 'wow' from either of you. So when Robert Jordan was giving you the ending in those last months, what were you thinking about just how he had brought it together, and how the twists were, and general feelings?

    Maria Simons

    Wow.

    Alan Romanczuk

    I was speechless. But I don't have many feelings.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    And I've known the ending for many years, and at the time I first heard it, I said, "Okay, so how're you going to get from here to there?" But that's because I'm an editor, and that's kind of a Darkfriend.

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  • 50

    Interview: Apr 16th, 2011

    Richard Fife

    So we know you're doing the re-read of the series right now, and Twittering about it frantically. But how else are you preparing yourself to write the mother of all conclusions?

    Brandon Sanderson

    How am I preparing myself?

    Richard Fife

    And this actually is for all four of you.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I'll go first but I think that others will have some things to say along these lines. I think one of the things we're doing is we're slowing it down a bit. We all got overworked last year, and getting Towers of Midnight out by the date that we had promised and that Tor wanted it has had detrimental effects on our ability to work at the beginning of this year. And so, we are going to slow it down a bit. One of the reasons for this is the re-read, but one of the reasons is we just worked too hard last year. And there are repercussions for doing that, and if we do that again, you're going to end up with a bad book. So, I think that's one of the preparations we're doing. We're building in more time for revision, is really what we're doing.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    I second that. Brandon is one of the world's fastest writers, but I am not one of the world's fastest editors. Last year was what Jim and I, well what I learned to do for Robert Jordan was curbside edits, kind of drive-by edits, but after a while that has a big cost. And there was no way, looking at the last book, that I could do my part of the work again as fast as I did last year.

    Richard Fife

    Alan? You have anything?

    Alan Romanczuk

    Preparation?

    (Mumbled conversation ensues between Alan and Brandon and something about battles...)

    Brandon Sanderson

    All I was going to say is, we're doing a lot of reading, all of us, in historical battles and the history of warfare in order to prime ourselves. I'm not going to tell you what specifically we're reading, but we are doing a lot of research in that area, particularly Alan and I.

    Tags

  • 51

    Interview: Apr 16th, 2011

    Richard Fife

    (More about preparation for A Memory of Light.)

    Alan Romanczuk

    Let's see. Well, probably the most significant thing that's happened is we are all working on the same version of Word right now. We had some difficulties in the past.

    Maria Simons

    Last year we had three.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Three different versions.

    Maria Simons

    And it caused some really interesting things.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. What we would do, you can see how much of a pseudo-nightmare this is. So, in order to speed things up last year, and it actually did speed things up despite the chaos, was we went all digital for edits.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Yeah.

    Brandon Sanderson

    One of the tricks of working with this is, I basically have five editors, with Harriet at the top, and then there's Maria and Alan right below. And then Moshe my editor is giving us reads...because we can't use my normal alpha readers for this, which are my writing group, because they'd all have to be part of the NDA and that's just too many people. And so instead we brought on Moshe to just give me an alpha read, a dry alpha read. And then my agent also gives me dry alpha reads, because they all are interested professionals and part of the NDA and things like that.

    But basically, even looking only at Harriet, Maria, and Alan, what would happen is on The Gathering Storm, I would send in some scenes, and then I would start working on the next ones. And I would get deep into the next ones, and then some papers would come. I'm like, oh revisions. So I'd go back and start doing revision. And then another group of papers would come from another one of them that had revisions that were different. And then another group of papers would come that were a third group of revisions. And in some cases, they've all caught the same typo, but then I have to end up searching for it three times because I can't remember if I've changed that typo or not. And then I can't find it. I'm like, oh I guess that's one I caught, but really sometimes I didn't catch it, I'm just on the wrong page or something. Anyway, I have three sets of paper all from different people making different revisions, and sometimes they disagree with one another on what should be changed, and they're not seeing each other's revisions.

    Meanwhile, I'm on tour trying to fly around and carry all of these. You should have seen me on the airplane one of these days where revisions were needed the next day, and I'm flying on a six-hour flight in coach. And I'm cuddled like this between two people in the middle seat, with six hundred pages around me, trying to find all three pages that are editing the same section, and realizing that one's in my suitcase. This was absolutely a nightmare to do.

    And so this time, I'm like, let's go all digital, I'll have them all on my computer, it will be so much easier. But Harriet had never done digital revisions before. None of you had, I don't think. And so the idea was we would have one person do a revision, and then they would hand the file off, and that person could go through and a revision and add their comments, and then the next person would be able to do it. And that would have been wonderful in a perfect world. Unfortunately, we didn't have time for that because we were so crunched for time. And so what would happen is they all would be working on their own machine because they all needed to be reading at the same time, they couldn't wait for the other person. And so then they would all three send me documents digitally, which is easier to work with than trying to dig out all fifty pages of each. But at the same time, then I have four documents: my document, and three documents with revisions in it, from different versions of Word or Wordperfect or Open Office or whatever it is. I basically would just send them all to Peter (Peter Ahlstrom, Brandon's assistant) and say, "Peter, meld these somehow."

    Maria Simons

    Peter was a real hero.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. Peter was the unsung hero in that one because he really went through, he would work for hours and then send me a document back. But this would introduce lots of typos and errors, because the different revisions were different programs and would not stack up. And so we ended up with many more—you may have noticed—many more typos in Towers of Midnight, and it's due directly to this process, where one person would change something, another person would change it slightly differently, and the computer program would get confused. And what you would end up was like a word with an extra letter on it or something like this. And we caught most of them, but it added a lot of extra editing errors for this. We didn't cut corners on the really important stuff in Towers of Midnight, but when push came to shove, getting the extra proofreads, there wasn't time for, which is why there are more errors in Towers of Midnight. It's because we took the time we needed for revision, but we didn't then have any time for proofreads. Peter, you proofread—did you even get the whole book done? You were up till 6 AM several nights proofreading.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    After I told you I was done, I realized that I had skipped three chapters.

    Richard Fife

    Peter, why don't you stand up and just wave, so everyone can see you?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Peter deserves kudos.

    I would like to say, at the beginning of the editing process on the last book, Brandon was 7 feet, 3 inches tall.

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  • 52

    Interview: Apr 16th, 2011

    Leigh Butler

    What do think you're going to feel like once it is actually done and out and over? Is it just going to relief? Do you think you're going to be kind of sad? Collapse in a puddle on the floor?

    Brandon Sanderson

    All of the above. It's going to be a major relief; there will be a sadness to it. There will be definitely a sadness, though having read the ending already, that sadness began for me in 2007, because the series is already finished for me. The work isn't done, but the series is finished. And so that melancholy, it won't come to a crux until that book is finally out. But I think the others might, you know they've been working on this much longer than I have, so they may have something different to say.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Yeah, it's been a long ride. It's going to be wonderful to have it finished; it's going to be sad that it will be finished. It won't be totally finished for Harriet, Maria, and myself because we'll be producing the encyclopedia, which will come out approximately a year after this book hits the bookshelves. This is the longest I've ever held a job. And you know, it hasn't felt like a job. I always say that my life is primarily fantasy, if you include very vivid dreams, the food I eat, what I do after dinner, there's very little reality left in my world. So I'm curious to see how that's going to change when this is all over. But yeah, it's been a great ride.

    Maria Simons

    It's been a very good ride. And it'll be good to have it finished in some ways, and it will be sad. I've been doing this fifteen years now, and it's going to be different. But, I am looking forward to being able to actually really talk about the Wheel of Time without having to think really hard about every word I say.

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  • 53

    Interview: Apr 16th, 2011

    Question

    It may be a little early to ask about the encyclopedia, but at last year's DragonCon in closing panels, you all talked about it, you all gathered audience participation. Any comments on what the progress or what you all are looking at doing with this, as far as back history maps and whatnot?

    Alan Romanczuk

    Yeah, you know, we're progressing on it. We've decided on a format. We've decided on a lot of the things it's going to contain. It will be alphabetical. It will be very accessible. It will have a lot of things in it that you won't find anywhere else, including some of Jim's notes or selections from his notes. Because there's a lot that, not a lot, but there'll be some that is not possible to tell in the books, and Jim never intended to be in the books, but for his own knowledge of the characters and situations, he felt important to put down in writing. It could be a very large volume.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    I think it will be. By its nature, actually, Alan, you said it would be out a year after the last book. We have a year after the last book is finished to finish the encyclopedia, for obvious reasons. You can't have an encyclopedia of the series without including all the stuff that should be in there from the final book. So it will probably be a year after delivery of the manuscript before we deliver that manuscript. It will be a little longer.

    Question

    Are you going to put in things like copies of Aludra's plans for the Dragons, or maybe a copy of Mat's letter to Elayne? Or even Moiraine's letter to Thom, all folded up and tear-stained?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Well, those are very interesting suggestions.

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  • 54

    Interview: Apr 16th, 2011

    Richard Fife

    We know what Brandon's obviously going to do once the Wheel's done. How about the rest of you? Do you have any plans or ideas for what's going to happen once the encyclopedia is finished?

    Maria Simons

    Well, I'm working on comics and we're just very early still in Eye of the World, so if that goes on and on I guess I will actually still be doing Wheel of Time, just a different medium.

    Alan Romanczuk

    I've been looking into greeting at Walmart.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Well, I've been thinking, what would it really be like to be retired? Maybe I'll join you at Walmart.

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  • 55

    Interview: Nov 16th, 2010

    Brandon Sanderson

    Julien also asked what Shanna'har meant and [Brandon] said that he had asked Alan for a word that meant "commemoration" in the Old Tongue.

    Tags

  • 56

    Interview: Oct 15th, 2011

    Ted Herman

    Why didn't the Seanchan invade Ghealdan?

    Brandon Sanderson

    MAFO. Brandon replied that it may be due to all the problems caused by Ituralde's raids, and possibly the issue with Galad's desertion as well.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Their plan was to push east quickly through Illian and eventually sweep north into Andor and beyond. Ghealdan was not a military threat to them for the time being, and it would fall easily to them once they had consolidated control of the southeast. There are only so many fronts on which an army wishes, or should wish, to fight simultaneously, even an army of great strength. History is littered with the corpses of generals who made that mistake.

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  • 57

    Interview: Jul 11th, 2010

    Rword

    Is Maria your fountain of knowledge?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes, yes, yes. Her and Alan are VERY useful. Encyclopaedia WOT is my starting point, and they are my deep-researchers.

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  • 58

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    Chaos2651

    Are you going to write another WoT encyclopedia?

    Harriet, Maria, and Alan are working on one. Harriet promised it to Tor a few years back, and I think it's been officially announced that she's working on it. There is no firm release date. After A Memory of Light is complete, I'd imagine.

    Tags

  • 59

    Interview: Jul, 2009

    Nikleas

    WOT question: Did you go through ALL the notes from RJ on the Wheel of Time (if that is even humanly possible) or just those related to A Memory of Light?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mr. Jordan left behind notes for the series which, word-length wise, is in EXCESS of the length of the written novels. That was just too much for me to handle. I've used Mr. Jordan's assistants for fetching information from these reserves, and have focused most of my efforts on the notes specifically left for A Memory of Light. The Guide has been very helpful. But mostly, if I need to know something from the notes, I send Maria and Alan searching while I work on the actual prose.

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  • 60

    Interview: 2012

    Brandon Sanderson (25 October 2011)

    Writing on A Memory of Light might be a little slower this week. Been coordinating heavily with Alan R. from Team Jordan on Last Battle tactics.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It should be noted that Alan R (Team Jordan member) has been acting as my own personal Great Captain on A Memory of Light, and really doing a great job.

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  • 61

    Interview: Nov 21st, 2011

    LordJuss

    The evening began with the amusing sight of Brandon Sanderson piling various items of furniture on top of one another to create a home-made lectern for his laptop. Following a brief aside on the difference between a lectern and a podium (and how this plays into the editorial process), Brandon read from a novella he’s recently written. [Legion] Apparently, he started it on the flight back to the US the last time he came to the UK. He couldn’t work on the Wheel of Time since he was awaiting the outcome of some research on the notes. He went on to explain that Robert Jordan left a pile of notes roughly half Brandon’s height that his two researchers dip into when Brandon needs an answer to one of his questions. This is normally quick, but it can take several months to come up with a fully researched answer. The reading lasted about eight minutes and seemed to be from the beginning of the novella. I won’t spoil the concept, but it’s clever and deeply silly.

    The evening then moved to a Q&A. Questions and answers are paraphrased from my notes and memory, so they won’t be absolutely word-for-word, but they shouldn’t be much different from the original conversation. I’ve included all the questions, not just the Wheel-related ones.

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  • 62

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Andrew Gelos

    One of the questions—and this is a really weird one, at least for me—I was wondering—and obviously we know that if it's pertaining too much to things that are going to be coming out in the books that haven't been released yet, we know that they can't be discussed, and that's completely and totally understandable—but I was really wondering: I've recently started yet another re-read of the series with my wife, and I got to thinking about the Horn of Valere (rhymes with full-AIR)...or Valere (full-EAR)—and once again, I sometimes flip back and forth between the way I originally heard it and the way it probably should be pronounced—but how does the Horn function? Is it actually an old ter'angreal, or is it completely unrelated to the One Power?

    Alan Romanczuk

    Hmm.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Okay...we don't really know. No one really knows. It's an ancient artifact, probably not a ter'angreal.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Excuse me, Maria, I have to interrupt for just a moment. I actually found some notes on this, in the bottom of Jim's desk.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh, really?

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    I don't know if anyone's interested.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh yes.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Just a little?

    MARK

    Please, please?

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    The Horn of Valere, as Maria said, it was created by mortals—we know that; Jim has said as much publicly—and the Horn was created in the Age before the Age of Legends, or at least one Age before; it was not known how far back. But I've discovered that the Horn actually was the original Horn played by Dizzy Gillespie. [laughter] It was manufactured by King—it was the silver flare model. And something happened after this Age...there was so much Bebop imbued in this instrument that it took on its own magical qualities, and when it was found during the Age of Legends, the bent bell was refashioned into a curve, and they put in the Old Tongue inscription inside the bell. [laughter]

    ANDREW GELOS

    That is awesome.

    VIRGINIA

    Wow. I never would have guessed that.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Well, it's really obscure. The power of Bebop is unlimited, and it just transformed through the last couple of Ages, to get into Rand's world, with its current...now, originally, when he blew it, musicians would appear.

    VIRGINIA

    AH. Backup band.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    But because of the needs of the time, you know, it suddenly became, Heroes would emerge when it was played. So, that's all we can really say about it. Do you have anything else to add, Maria?

    MARIA SIMONS

    No.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I can't wait until the Theorylanders get ahold of that.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh yeah. So now we know that the Wheel even weaves inanimate objects into the Pattern, and makes use of them as it wishes.

    MARK

    Now, that story I expect to see in the next Great White Book, version two. [laughter]

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  • 63

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Mark

    Okay. So, I got a question that actually goes all the way back to the very beginning of the series.

    Maria Simons

    Mkay.

    MARK

    Will we ever find out whose voice it was at the end of The Eye of the World?

    MARIA SIMONS

    [pause] [in a sing-song voice] RAFO! (ray-foe)

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, that's a RAFO. (raffo)

    MARIA SIMONS

    Score!

    MARK

    I figured, but I had to ask.

    MARIA SIMONS

    I wondered how long it would take.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Maria and I have spent some time trying to figure out different ways to say 'read and find out', so we're going to be trying out some of them today, and we'll see how it goes.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, great.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Oh, this will be fun. Let me see if I can get you another trial run here. Um...Asmodean? [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Who's he?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah. Who's that guy?

    VIRGINIA

    He's toast, that's who he is.

    SPENCER POWELL

    No, Sammael's toast.

    ANDREW GELOS

    Yeah, I was going to say.

    VIRGINIA

    Well, I think he is too.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Um, if anybody sees the back of my car, they will see that I killed Asmodean. That's all I'm gonna say. [laughter]

    MARK

    I thought it was Bela!

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I do like the 'Bela killed him' theory. That one is just insane enough to be true.

    MARIA SIMONS

    I like that Bela is the Neigh'blis. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Terrible puns are always a good thing.

    VIRGINIA

    I love it.

    MARIA SIMONS

    And the master of the terrible pun is on this call.

    VIRGINIA

    Ahh.

    MARIA SIMONS

    In Jim's office.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Ahhhh.

    VIRGINIA

    Well feel free. [laugher]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    I am, I am.

    VIRGINIA

    Pun away. Well, we've got two...you pronounce it 'raffo', right? Not 'rayfo'?

    MARIA SIMONS

    I say 'rayfo'. I don't know that there's a real pronunciation for that one.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    She says 'raffo', I say 'rayfo', so let's call the whole thing off.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, well we got two right off the bat. I don't know what else we're going to....well, probably everything.

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  • 64

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Virginia

    Okay, so...my pet peeve is the famous library ter'angreal that was uncovered in Ebou Dar. Why is it that….is all that non-fictional knowledge ever going to come into play, and what's wrong with Elayne that she's not using it to find out some things that they probably desperately need to know? Or I guess she's using it as a doorstop.

    Maria Simons

    Well, 1) we haven't seen Elayne in a whole book; we don't really know what she's doing, and 2) she has problems channeling because of this pregnancy deal, and 3) everything's going to be in the Old Tongue and she's a little busy to sit down and translate documents.

    VIRGINIA

    That's true.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    But you don't understand the significance of that ter'angreal: Jim foreshadowed the creation of the Kindle. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, no!

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Mmhmm, he did. And actually, Elayne—right now as we speak—is in her bed reading fiction on that.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I bet they're dirty romance novels.

    SPENCER POWELL

    I was going to peg her for an urban fantasy fan.

    MARK

    No, no, no, no, no. She loves the Harlequins. Case closed.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, the Harlequins. Yeah.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yes, totally.

    MARK

    Either her or Aviendha, but one of those two is definitely into the Harlequin super-romance.

    VIRGINIA

    How can she get all excited about the cover art of Fabio when she's got Rand? [laughter]

    ANDREW GELOS

    Have you seen the cover of Lord of Chaos?

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, I'm telling you! No comparison.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, that one was nicknamed at our house 'Passion of the Aes Sedai'. I actually had to take the dust jacket off of that one when I would take it to school, when I was in high school, because I was like, "I do not want people to think I'm reading some kind of filthy romance novel in class."

    VIRGINIA

    Well, I'm thinking more of, what was it? A Crown of Swords? Where he's got the, uh…all he needs is some baby oil and a little less clothes and he looks like he's posing…

    JENNIFER LIANG

    We love fist-pumping, body-building Rand.

    MARK

    Don't make me get out the water bottle to squirt you ladies. Jeez… [laughter]

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I have a big cardboard cut-out of fist-pumping, baby-oil Rand in my garage right now. I use it as a [decoration] at conventions. [Amusingly, it was stolen at JordanCon 2011, a few months after this interview.]

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, cool.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Is that cool, or is that creepy?

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Well, it's a little insane I think.

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  • 65

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Mark

    While we're talking about non-existent or 'gone' people here, why don't I ask a question that's been irking me for about five or six books now. Where did Gaidal Cain go?

    Maria Simons

    Birgitte thinks he's been reborn into the world.

    SPENCER POWELL

    That's a nice answer.

    MARK

    No kidding.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Birgitte thinks he's been reborn?

    VIRGINIA

    She's mooning over all the ugly boy-children she can get her hands on, thinking "Ohh, maybe this is him!"

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    But keep in mind the only way she thinks that is because she hadn't seen him for a while in Tel'aran'rhiod before she was yanked out by Moghedien. So we don't even know if that's true, do we? (I just threw that out for what it's worth.)

    VIRGINIA

    But she did always say that he was usually born before her, but we don't know how long in real world time, so he could be more than a child, hopefully. Or he could still be lurking in Tel'aran'rhiod.

    SPENCER POWELL

    But there's no way he could be more than a child. Correct me if I'm wrong, Alan, but the entirety of the books we have isn't more than a couple of years, is it?

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, it's been about twenty-four months for the main characters. Alan would know for sure.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yes, I'm not saying this is true. Well, of course I know, but I can give you various possibilities: he could be born as a child right now; he could still be lurking in Tel'aran'rhiod; he could have been ripped out the same way Birgitte had been, in which case he would be an adult, right?

    SPENCER POWELL

    Unless he was dead. Because wouldn't it require someone to bond him after he gets ripped out? Wasn't that kind of the deal with Birgitte?

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Mmhmm.

    VIRGINIA

    Well, maybe he's stronger than she was…maybe he's…

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    There are a lot of possibilities.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Unless somebody has a really ugly Warder they're not talking about… [laughter]

    MARK

    Not all Warders are beautiful. I mean…

    VIRGINIA

    Go check Myrelle's quarters. I know Myrelle has a real penchant for hiding extra Warders around… [laughter]

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, but she likes hers pretty.

    SPENCER POWELL

    She got Lan.

    VIRGINIA

    Lan's impressive, but I don't know if anybody would call him pretty any more. [laughter]

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  • 66

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Andrew Gelos

    I have a kind of a question which…so much doesn't connect directly to the Wheel of Time world except that it also connects Wheel of Time to the broader scope of our world, and I've just been itching to ask this: I've recently been in a course in Restoration Literature, and in the historical studies there, I noted that there seem to be connections between Cairhien and London around the time of the mid-to-early 1600s: the fact that the city is part built against a river, the city burns when the Aiel attack, and there are various cultural features that seem to reflect London around that time period, and I was wondering, am I just completely imagining this? I know occasionally Mr. Jordan would take things from various different places and kind of merge them together to create a unique, individual space, and I just was sort of wondering if there is actually any of historical London in Cairhien, and if there is, is there any more anywhere else in the major cities?

    Alan Romanczuk

    Yes, yes. One thing you have to remember about Jim is he never did a single reference in any of his descriptions, whether it's a military uniform, a city, a character—everything seemed to draw from multiple sources. So yes, Cairhien was most likely in part based on London, but you look at the map of it, and you can see it's very different as well. It's laid out in a very rigid grid fashion. You could say in that case, well, maybe it's based on New York City in part as well, and it has a palace up on the highest hill within the bounds of the city. That's not true of London, but it's true of other places. And London wasn't the only city burned by attack; there were many others. But yeah, I mean Jim had a huge number of books in his reference library, and he traveled a lot as well, so he saw many of these places, and in typical Jim fashion...you know, I wouldn't be surprised if he had eight or ten or twelve influences in the creation of Cairhien.

    ANDREW GELOS

    That's great, because what actually caught my notice—because, even the Great Fire of 1666 probably would have passed me by in connection to the Wheel of Time world, except for the fact that, then I looked at the semi-Puritanical dress that the nobles in the city were taken to wearing, and then we were…I actually on the day I thought of this question was sitting there looking at a screen with the picture of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector, and I was just like, "You know, that's like, almost what I kind of envisioned the Cairhienin nobility to kind of look like."

    VIRGINIA

    Well, one thing we've never seen in any of the Wheel of Time history that I can recall—and London, just talking about it brought it to mind—is, we've never seen a large-scale plague in history, like with the Great Plague of the year…I've forgotten now.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Mmhmm.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Well, of course, so many of the rats have been eliminated, but they're back now.

    VIRGINIA

    They're back! Maybe your plague is coming, like they need more trouble. [laughter]

    MARIA SIMONS

    The Last… (cross-talk)

    VIRGINIA

    No, go ahead…

    MARIA SIMONS

    The Last Battle is…

    JENNIFER LIANG

    It's funny that you brought up London as an influence, because most people when they're talking about influences on Cairhien, they really pick up on the court of the Sun King and Marie Antoinette because the style is very, you know, 1700s, late-1700s and Marie Antoinette, and there's also a lot of Japanese influence, and that tends to be what people pick up on. So this is the first time I've had somebody say, "You know, I think there's a London in Cairhien," so that's kind of interesting.

    VIRGINIA

    I guess everybody brings something different to the books, and interprets them in their own way.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Oh yeah, definitely.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yeah, another interesting point: anyone remember what the name Cairhien means in the Old Tongue?

    ANDREW GELOS

    Hill of the Golden Dawn.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Hill of the Golden Dawn. The Order of the Golden Dawn was an occult society in London back before the beginning of the 20th Century.

    FOOTNOTE

    This particular society was Kabbalistic, and their hierarchy is based on the Tree of Life. Many other parallels can be drawn.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, that's right. I'd forgotten that.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Which I just bring out as, you know, yet another thing that Jim latched on to and threw into the mix.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Most people think 'the hill of the golden dawn' is like, 'Oh, the land of the rising sun!' which would be Japan, because there's a heavy Japanese influence in just the style of the buildings and things like that seem very Japanese.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Sure. And the Sun King of France.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah. It's kind of like he just pulled everything that was related to the sun and just kind of melded it together to make Cairhien.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yeah.

    MARIA SIMONS

    He liked mixing things up.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    And it works really well. That's the surprising thing to me is that he was able to pull from so many different sources and make things seem very coherent and logical for the cultures.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, I like the fact that everything that you read as you're going along, all these things sort of tug at the back of your mind and you're thinking, 'Oh, this reminds me of this, and this reminds me of that', and it makes you really think that it adds a depth to the thing that you can come back later and explore it again.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Okay, I've got a game for you. Go to Wikipedia. Put in something like 'golden dawn', let's say…or just anything. Pull anything from the Wheel of Time books that's distinctive. Put it into Wikipedia until you find a hit. I almost guarantee, within that article, you're going to find yet another reference from the Wheel of Time. Track that. See how many hits you can go before you run out.

    VIRGINIA

    I'll have to try that.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    I did that the other day, and I wound up spending an hour and a half of just going from one thing to another. It was really amazing.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, I can see myself losing an afternoon doing that.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh yeah, easily.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Very easily.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I've lost too many hours to Wiki-walking already.

    VIRGINIA

    I guess that's why it bothers me so much about that library ter'angreal…if I had that, I'd never be able to put it down, and I guess I just don't understand how somebody could…if they can't deal with it, then delegate, but this is me. It's the equivalent of having a computer hooked up to the internet; I could not walk away from it. It would be a Mindtrap for me. [laughter]

    Tags

  • 67

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Andrew Gelos

    I guess part of the thing that is interesting to me, and I guess being a student of Literature, I am horribly fascinated with fictional languages. How extensive is the vocabulary of the Old Tongue as it exists right now? I'm assuming that there is more of it than we have seen in the novels. And do you know if there were rules set down to explain the creation of the vocabulary? And kind of alongside that, is there—obviously I kind of take the answer about London to be a similar question, or a similar answer towards whether or not there's an actual philological basis for the Old Tongue—part of what I'm wondering is…I've been using the Shienaran phrase "Suravye ninto manshima taishite" as sort of our closing for the podcast. I'm tentatively wondering how badly I'm butchering that.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Oh, you're spot on. Spot on.

    VIRGINIA

    Yay Andrew!

    ANDREW GELOS

    Sweet!

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Jim actually spoke pretty extensively in public about the Old Tongue, and I even pulled up a letter that he had written about it in which he says, "The Old Tongue is based on, for example, the languages: Gaelic, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and some additions of my own—bridging material if you will. Grammar and syntax are a blending of English, German, and Chinese with some influence from a set of African languages read about long ago, and all but the oddities of structure long since forgotten." He has converted constructions…the thing about the Old Tongue, the way that it's constructed…it is a very loose language, like Latin I guess; it can be presented in almost any order and be intelligible to someone who knows it, and there are several conventions involved in it which could be explained for a longer podcast, but those are the basics. He really did pull them from a lot of different areas, and he started by constructing the language—as I recall there is a list of 850 or 880 common words that you need to know to be able to speak in English, and I don't know who created these, but he had that. We have file, and he modified that, kicking out some words like 'electricity' and so forth that wouldn't be useful in this, and adding some others, and putting definitions to them in Old Tongue. I never added it up, but he said we had a file of about a thousand words, and this dictionary will be published at a later time.

    VIRGINIA

    Great.

    ANDREW GELOS

    That is awesome.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    And that will be part of the encyclopedia, actually.

    ANDREW GELOS

    That'll be great.

    VIRGINIA

    I can't wait. That sort of leads me into my next question which is something that, two years ago when Brandon was out on the Mistborn tour—the last Mistborn book tour—during an interview, I asked him if he could please come up with some way for us to say phrases having to do with the Light, such as 'Walk in the Light,' or 'May the Light illumine you' in the Old Tongue, and he said he would do his best, and I think he just forgot. But we do have the audio; he kind of sort of promised us. We're hoping that maybe you can bail him out on this one. [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Well, I think all will be revealed in the encyclopedia.

    VIRGINIA

    Aww, I can't wait that long!

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Except what isn't revealed.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    How far is the encyclopedia coming? People ask me about it occasionally, and I'm like, 'I dunno; they're working on it.'

    MARIA SIMONS

    Well, it's been back-burner recently because we're doing Towers of Midnight, but that's my next project to get back into, doing basically the skeleton for it, and after A Memory of Light we will go full bore on it.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Oh, excellent. I remember Harriet saying that it was due one year after the final book, whenever the final book is out.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Right.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    And we're working on it in between when we get time, when we're not doing podcasts and so forth. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, now you're making us feel guilty. [laughter] But not very.

    Tags

  • 68

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Andrew Gelos

    One of the earliest questions I came up with for this interview…just idle curiosity: What are some of the most commonly mispronounced words from the series other than Lan, Aiel, Seanchan, and Shaido?

    Maria Simons

    Egwene (egg-WAYNE), Taim (tah-EEM), Faile (fah-EEL), Egeanin (egg-ee-AH-nin), [???—Ethenielle? (eth-IN-ee-əl]…that's all I can think of off the top of my head. Well, Nynaeve (nigh-NEEVE) seems to be mispronounced a lot too.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I could not even read her name when I first saw it. I was just like, "I'm going to skip her; she seems like a minor character." And then I was like, "Aw, crap; she's actually in this story; I'm gonna have to figure out how to actually read her name."

    VIRGINIA

    I can't believe it; I've actually been saying them all pretty well. It's always a worry, especially when you're doing a podcast, because you know, when people are going to be listening, you don't want to start a trend if it's not going to be the right thing.

    ANDREW GELOS

    The worst is when we get the feedback that says, "You're not saying that right! Get your pronunciations correct; you're supposed to be experts. Then it's like, "No, we're not." We actually say a lot that we're nowhere near experts in the series.

    VIRGINIA

    We're just fans like the rest of you guys.

    MARIA SIMONS

    I still say some things wrong, but I've been saying them that way for a long time, so…people can get over it.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    At the reading that we did at DragonCon, Brandon had to read the word "Aesdaishar" for the first time out loud, and he had to stop and be like, "I've never said this word before; make sure I get it right." That was funny.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Oh, and Elayne's brother is Galad (gə-LAHD), and Gawyn (GAH-win).

    SPENCER POWELL

    Yes! We've been getting those right too!

    MARIA SIMONS

    And see, I usually say GAL-id (like the word 'gal'). I know it's wrong, but that's what comes out of my mouth. But I have on my little piece of paper here it's gə-LAHD.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    We'll just chalk it up to you being southern. Gallid is the southern way of saying it.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    I am from Mississippi, and I say gə-LAHD. Just saying.

    Tags

  • 69

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Mark

    I actually have a question that leads more onto the line of channeling and weaves—and I think this might have been yours, Virginia, but it's also been tickling the back of my mind for a while. Why is that no other channelers have rediscovered any lost weaves—like they did with Traveling, Skimming, cuendillar, real Healing, and all that fun stuff—before the Wondergirls?

    Maria Simons

    Well, we don't really know no one did. If they did, they didn't share it, sure. You know, not all channelers are Aes Sedai, and even Aes Sedai don't always share things.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, they keep a lot back.

    MARIA SIMONS

    The Blue Ajah, you know, has all its little secret weaves, and I'm sure all the other Ajahs do as well. And two, there's always the whole thing that, 'the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills', and sometimes the Wheel weaves out what it needs, and with the Last Battle coming, it needs all the help it can get…so the really talented people, the really ta'veren people, they come out again. That's for most of them. For Healing, maybe there's a different answer. Aes Sedai…they know how to Heal people, and that's the way they do it, and they don't need to know anything better! I mean, it's just Aes Sedai being Aes Sedai. They think they know what they're doing, so they don't look for a better way to do it.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    And if they have discovered a better way to do it, they're probably not sharing it with other people, because every Aes Sedai is looking for an advantage over the others.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Right.

    MARK

    Oh, okay. So then that sort of partially answers the next half of my question, which is: How did some of these weaves get lost in the first place?

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, my favorite rant. All the Aes Sedai woke up one morning with amnesia. How did I Travel? I can't remember.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Well, part of it…I mean, I was reading, of all things, the Big White Book, and you know, the Breaking lasted a really long time, and things were really breaking. I mean, you might know how to Travel, but you didn't know if where you were trying to go was still there. You know, it might be in the middle of the ocean now, or on top of a mountain, so people probably weren't Traveling as much...and Aes Sedai were being killed right and left. There were all these crazy men, channelers wiping out entire cities, and the Aes Sedai women were trying to stop them, and sometimes they succeeded, and sometimes not…so, things really went to hell in a handbasket. Fast. And, you know, if a woman knew how to channel and she couldn't find anyone else who had the strength to channel, she couldn't really teach anybody to channel.

    VIRGINIA

    That's true.

    MARIA SIMONS

    To Travel, is what I meant to say.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yeah, there was a time of course when the White Tower wasn't there. You know, the White Tower was a recent innovation in the grand scheme of things, and so the Aes Sedai after the Breaking were everywhere, so there wasn't that institutional memory in all things at that point, and things were lost.

    VIRGINIA

    So the Hall of the Servants, then, basically was a much looser organization than the somewhat hierarchical White Tower…

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Mmhmm.

    VIRGINIA

    …than we have now.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Mmhmm.

    VIRGINIA

    So we have a sort of central storing place for knowledge, or anything like that.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Right.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, think of what would happen to us if there was a horrible disaster that wiped out the internet. We would lose all of our knowledge except for, you know, the stuff that we still have in books. But you know, a good portion of our knowledge and communication that is electronic now would be gone.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    But this podcast would remain in people's hearts. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    Well, you got me on that one, Maria, because if my computer was suddenly taken away and there were no others to replace it, I think I would probably have the equivalent of amnesia. It's my plastic brain, and I really need it. [laughter]

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I've always thought that the lost talents were related to strength, because the modern Aes Sedai are weaker than the Age of Legends Aes Sedai, and a lot of these rediscovered weaves require a certain level of strength that just doesn't exist in those Aes Sedai.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Right, and also talent, because to do this Healing, you have to have a certain Talent for Healing. To make cuendillar...Janya couldn't make cuendillar worth a darn, and…she didn't have that Talent, so if somebody knew it, but there was nobody they could teach it to, it's gone!

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah.

    MARK

    Well, the thing is though…leading up to that comment: remember in—I believe it was Crossroads, but it might have been Knife of Dreams—when Sorilea (soar-ih-LAY-uh)—I have no idea if this is how it's pronounced...

    MARIA SIMONS

    (soar-ih-LEE-uh)

    MARK

    She taught Cadsuane how to Travel, even though she couldn't make the weave work herself. So just because you don't have the strength to make the weave finish doesn't mean you can't form the weave anyway.

    MARIA SIMONS

    That's true, but...okay. We've got our nameless Aes Sedai after the Breaking, and she's found a little crew of people, and none of them are strong enough to Travel. Well, she's going to show them how to do it anyway and hopefully one day they'll find somebody strong enough but, you know, they never do. So we've got the same thing, and you know, sooner or later it's going to…if you can't actually use it for anything, you're going to put it aside and not pay any attention to it, and it will get lost.

    VIRGINIA

    Or, by the time that bunch of people finds someone who is [strong enough], it might have gone through several iterations and they might have the weave just a little bit wrong, so that it doesn't work either.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    And—correct me if I'm wrong on this—but I don't think it's possible to write down how to do a weave. I think it's something that you have to learn through demonstration. You can't just write it down, and be like, 'Well, I'll put this on the shelf, and some day a hundred years from now someone will come along and pick it up and figure out how to weave...whatever from this. I feel like you have to be shown how to do a weave.

    MARIA SIMONS

    That is...I mean, that's how they do it. You know, the novices don't run around with heavy books; they run around being taught by actual people. It's my belief that writing might could give clues or something, but you have to be able to show it or work it out on your own.

    VIRGINIA

    Of course, I was going to say they could just check on YouTube and find out how, but then, would the One Power weaves even show up on video? [laughter] If they even had that...

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh, that's a good question!

    VIRGINIA

    I actually was just wondering about that; I wonder if any these things—I'm sure that the effects would—but I presume that if most non-channelers can't see weaves that probably there's nothing there for a video to pick up, either...but it's an interesting question.

    MARIA SIMONS

    That is.

    VIRGINIA

    How to detect channeling: Whip out your camcorder! [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    With a wi-fi finder.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, okay. I'm going to be good now. That would be too funny. It's a shame Jessi couldn't be with us. She really wanted to be, but she had to work, and couldn't get off. One of her favorite premises is, you know, how drastically the Wheel of Time story would all be changed if they had access to cell phones and texting and the internet and everything.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh yeah. There would be no story.

    SPENCER POWELL

    They do though! Elayne has the communication ter'angreal. They have cell phones...ish. They just don't use them! [laughter]

    MARIA SIMONS

    Give 'em time.

    VIRGINIA

    I sort of [?] a couple of the guys before one time when we were podcasting and I had to get up in the office; I was working and I had to turn a phone off, and I came back and I said "I just had to disable that callbox ter'angreal." And they said, "Oh, you are such a geek." [laughter]

    SPENCER POWELL

    It's true.

    VIRGINIA

    A 'dork' is what actually they said.

    MARK

    No, you are a geek, because dorks have no social status whereas geeks are more knowledgeable in one or two given fields, and since we are all major WoT nerds—we qualify as nerds, not dorks.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, we got some cred there anyway.

    Tags

  • 70

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Virginia

    So I guess the next question I want to ask is "Okay, how about those quadruplets?"

    Maria Simons

    How 'bout those Yankees? [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Alright, well there are...I believe there are four. Is that right, Maria?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah, four. Uh-huh.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Four. Alright, so what else do you want to know?

    VIRGINIA

    Wow. When are we going to find out about the quadruplets? I mean, we presume that they're working on the generation of them at some point here, but they're running out of time before the Last Battle. I mean, are these going to be born post-Tarmon Gai'don, or pre-Tarmon Gai'don, or are we just going to have to read and find out?

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Interesting question.

    VIRGINIA

    They are running out of time.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah.

    SPENCER POWELL

    And Aviendha's somewhere in the Waste, or on her way to the Waste.

    VIRGINIA

    Well now she is, but she was with Rand for quite a while, so...

    MARIA SIMONS

    [something about Min]

    ANDREW GELOS

    Yeah, but she didn't have her honor, remember?

    VIRGINIA

    I know, but that doesn't mean that she couldn't have hooked up, uh...you know, I don't know.

    MARIA SIMONS

    No, Aviendha [something]

    VIRGINIA

    [interrupts] That's what I'm wondering; that's what I'm wondering. Have they even started yet? If they're not started yet, I don't see how they could be born before Tarmon Gai'don, unless that's the odd thing, that she does a Star Trek sort of plot and has, you know, fully-grown...

    JENNIFER LIANG

    [something about MTV?]

    MARIA SIMONS

    I'm just gonna say, read and find out.

    VIRGINIA

    *sigh* Well you know we will.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Well, then.

    VIRGINIA

    When you tell somebody that, does anyone ever just go, "Well that's it; I'm done. I've had it! Never reading the Wheel of Time again!" No, no…they all come back and read.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Yup, yup.

    MARK

    I tried that once. I put the book down for a sum total of about two days, and I'm like, "To hell with it; I gotta keep going!"

    JENNIFER LIANG

    It is a very oddly addicting series.

    MARK

    Yeah.

    Tags

  • 71

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Mark

    So, here's one that—I think this actually might have been yours, Spencer, cause it sounds like almost your mental acumen that would have asked this one—with the exception of Rand, who is Lews Therin Telamon reborn, are there any of the other characters that are reincarnations of prominent historical figures?

    Maria Simons

    There's Birgitte.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, but apart from Birgitte, yeah. I've always had this sort of fantasy in my mind that Nynaeve might be the reincarnation of Eldrene, the last queen of Manetheren, or something like that. And Mat, you know…gosh, he seems like...before he even left the Two Rivers, the Old Blood was coming out really strongly in him; it makes me wonder if he's not the actual rebirth of some extraordinary battle hero from Mathetheren. [silence]

    MARIA SIMONS

    Um...

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Interesting speculation. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    Which is going to go nowhere!

    MARK

    We're not putting answers into their mouths! We're supposed to be getting answers from them, not giving them answers to give back to us! [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Oh, was that a question?

    VIRGINIA

    Well, sort of!

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    No, you're doing well; keep going. [laughter]

    MARK

    He's going to do what he always does; he's going to sit back and listen to all the answers until he finds one that he likes, and he says, "You know what? That was it!" [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    Well, I guess this is something that we're just gonna have to hopefully read and find out...

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah...

    VIRGINIA

    …or I hope some of these questions are not going to be Brandon has said that Robert Jordan just said that 'this does not get resolved', you know...

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    That would be a shame. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    I'm not sure where that will leave us. Endlessly speculating till the Wheel stops turning…

    MARIA SIMONS

    There's no beginning or ending to the Wheel of Time.

    MARK

    Virginia will be reborn again once she passes and she will still be even more into WoT than she was now. [laughter] I can see it.

    VIRGINIA

    Impossible.

    MARK

    I can see it.

    VIRGINIA

    Physically impossible.

    MARK

    You'll learn your letters so you can read Robert Jordan in the cradle. [laughter]

    SPENCER POWELL

    I think you'll have a huge advantage, cause all the books will be out by then and you'll just be able to read 'em one after the other.

    VIRGINIA

    That's right, although I was going to say that I think I have the advantage, I was probably reading Robert Jordan when a couple of you guys were in the cradle.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Yeah, probably.

    ANDREW GELOS

    Yeah, probably.

    MARK

    Well, not in the cradle, but I was itty bitty when the first book came out.

    SPENCER POWELL

    I think I was still in the cradle.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Wow. I feel old.

    MARK

    Yeah, that's cause he…that's cause you're just…

    SPENCER POWELL

    I am twenty. I'm not even twenty yet, so...

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh my gosh!

    MARK

    You weren't even born when the first book came out, buddy.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Oh, wow.

    VIRGINIA

    There you go.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Whoa.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh, wow.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, but they still put up with me, and I think I'm older than Cad-swayne. Is that right? Cad-swayne? Cad-swanee?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Cad-swayne!

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, yay! Whew. So far I'm...

    SPENCER POWELL

    Except that we know that Cadsuane is a couple hundred years old, which, you know, is older than the country.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah.

    VIRGINIA

    Okay, so I'm not quite older than Cadsuane...

    MARK

    You come close.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, I feel like it. Anyway, enough of that...

    MARK

    You're as old as Re-anne. Or is it Re-annie?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Re-AH-nah.

    VIRGINIA

    Re-AH-nah, okay.

    MARK

    Ah.

    SPENCER POWELL

    That's on that list.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, I've been saying that one wrong the whole time.

    VIRGINIA

    In general, are ending Es pronounced in the Wheel of Time names, like Reanne?

    MARIA SIMONS

    It varies. He wasn't really…I mean, sometimes yes, and sometimes…I mean, I was thinking about this, because if Cadsuane's final e was pronounced, she would be Cad-soo-ae-nah, like Macarena, and you could do a whole dance. But… [laughter] There doesn't really seem to be a rule. It's just how he felt that day I think, or how it sounded to him.

    VIRGINIA

    Some are, and some aren't, you know. It is kind of confusing, but we don't know for sure, if we're even right when we guess that, so you be the arbiter on this one. Unless, as Brandon said in our interview to him, unless Robert Jordan comes down to us in a beam of white light and sets us straight, some of these things may not ever be known for sure, so you have to tell us as best you can. Speaking of names that end in E , two that almost kind of strike me are, um…I started out saying muh-RELL, and then I kind of went to muh-RELL-uh, because of the presumption that the final Es were pronounced, so I don't know for sure which one is right on that; I go back and forth between that.

    MARIA SIMONS

    That's interesting. I say my-RELL. I'm not absolutely sure that's the way Jim said it.

    VIRGINIA

    Okay, what about lee-AHN, or is it lee-AHN-uh?

    MARIA SIMONS

    lee-AHN-uh is correct. That one is Leanne. And Reanne.

    VIRGINIA

    Yay!

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    I believe that Myrelle…it's my-RELL.

    VIRGINIA

    my-RELL?

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    my-RELL.

    VIRGINIA

    You pronounce the Y?

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Mm-hmm. Like 'my'.

    VIRGINIA

    Okay, good.

    Tags

  • 72

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Spencer Powell

    How close was Verin's approximation on her accuracy in detecting the members of the Black that she had written in the amazing book that she gave to Egwene?

    Maria Simons

    It was pretty close. She did a good job.

    VIRGINIA

    That is interesting, because I'm still speculating that there may be other Black Ajah working around that haven't been discovered, and actually I have a whole load of questions I'd love to ask, but I just know they're all gonna be…you know, "Read and Find Out" answers. It always amazes me that Egwene spent so much time under Halima's thumb, in a way, that I can't believe that the only weaves that she laid on her were producing migraines. It makes you wonder if there isn't some hidden Compulsion weave going on there, that we'll find out later that maybe some of the Black Ajah in the White Tower could take advantage of. You know, there are so many things like that that I just know…

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah, I don't wanna go there.

    SPENCER POWELL

    I don't think that there's any Black Ajah left in the White Tower currently.

    VIRGINIA

    I wouldn't wanna bet my life on that. I don't think there are many.

    MARK

    Other than Mesaana who's hiding somewhere because she can defeat the Oath Rod, or so thinks Egwene herself in the end of The Gathering Storm.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Well, you still have the Black Ajah that escaped, too.

    VIRGINIA

    Mm-hmm.

    MARK

    Yeah, there was a lot of those that got out.

    SPENCER POWELL

    And we have Maria and Alan just sitting there going, "Yep, yep; you do." [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    No, I was just thinking that she was minimizing headaches. What a horrible thing for migraine-sufferers.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, listen…I get migraines. I have complete and total sympathy for anybody that gets migraines, but it seems to me like that probably wasn't the most…probably wasn't the only thing that she was doing to poor Egwene.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Well, the consensus that we…that was in the WoTFAQ when I was editing that article this summer was that Halima doing something to suppress Egwene's Dreaming talent so that she was not getting messages about the future any more, from whatever causes this to happen, and so the headache is the side-effect of that. I don't know if this is true or not; this is just the fan speculation from the WoTFAQ, but it is very telling that as soon as she gets away from Halima and is in the White Tower, her Dreaming ability comes back, because she had been having nightmares that she couldn't remember before about being chased by something, or something like that, and then when she gets into the White Tower, she stops having those nightmares, and she starts having the prophetic dreams again.

    SPENCER POWELL

    And she stops having headaches as well.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah, and the headaches go away. And she does not make the connection in Knife of Dreams when she first sees this happen. I don't remember if she makes the connection in The Gathering Storm when she finds out about Halima's infiltration of the Salidar Aes Sedai. I have to go back and reread The Gathering Storm in the next couple of weeks, because I'm a little fuzzy on the details there.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Mm-hmm. Well, it certainly seems plausible. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    I'm not surprised that you guys have got this down to an art.

    MARK

    You guys give the perfect Aes Sedai answers.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I love it when I ask Maria and Alan things that relate to FAQ, and they'll just kind of smile and nod at me and go, 'That's a good guess!'

    VIRGINIA

    I was going to say another Aes Sedai answer, but then...I wonder if we’re going to get the Asha’man known for convoluted answers, but then they don’t have the oath rod to get around. They can say whatever they want to at all times.

    SPENCER POWELL

    They'll just blow you up and have done with it.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah. They are refreshingly direct about their methods.

    Tags

  • 73

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Virginia

    But we have about twenty-some minutes left to go. I think before we get into our list of pronunciations even deeper, is there anything that you—Maria and Alan—would like to tell us, or things that you think we might have overlooked in the conversation. I mean, what could you let us know that isn't going to be [inaudible]…anything?

    Maria Simons

    Hmm. There's a book coming out on November 2nd? [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    We're surprised you haven't asked about that, and we were fully prepared to, but I'm sorry, we've run out of time. [laughter]

    Tags

  • 74

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Virginia

    Okay. Well…I guess we'll just go into the pronunciations.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Well, our next little bit needs a little bit of a lead-in for our listeners who don't have access to our huge list of questions like we do. As part of our interview questions, we have a list of words, and we asked, "How do you pronounce each of these words?" And there are about 43 of them. There are probably some on here that don't need to be on here, and I know that there aren't some on here that should be, but these are the 43 that we came up with.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, Spencer got mad at me because I went and annotated the list, like…I gotta be exact, and he's like "No…"

    SPENCER POWELL

    I didn't get mad at you! I just took 'em off; I'm like, "Oh yeah, you're right; take that one off." Anyway. And so Maria, Alan…would you please go through the list and tell us how to pronounce these names and places?

    Maria Simons

    Okay, here we go. And I may, you know, be wrong on some. But others, I'm pretty sure of.

    VIRGINIA

    And feel free to add some in if something occurs to you as you're going.

    MARIA SIMONS

    O-kay. We have add-uh-LAY-us. (Adeleas) el-FINN. (Aelfinn) eyes-DEYE-shar. (Aesdaishar) (RJ used EYE to rhyme with the word 'eye') ahm-uh-DEE-see-uh. (Amadicia) [glossary: ah-mah-DEE-see-ah] (ah=ahhh sound, uh=schwa) ERR-id doe-MAHN. (Arad Doman) [glossary: AH-rad do-MAHN] arr-uh-FELL. (Arafel) [glossary: AH-rah-fehl] brr-GEE-tuh. (Birgitte) (hard G) [glossary: ber-GEET-teh] Brenn. (Bryne) [glossary: BRIHN, GAH-rehth] KEYE-ree-enn. (Cairhien) [glossary: KEYE-ree-EHN] CHA fah-EEL. (Cha Faile) (mid ch) drag-car. (Draghkar) [glossary: DRAGH-kahr] EEL-finn. (Eelfinn) guh-LAHD. (Galad) [glossary: gah-LAHD] GAH-win. (Gawyn) [glossary: GAH-wihn] GALE-donn. (Ghealdan) [glossary: GHEL-dahn] I'm not sure if it's huh-REEN or huh-REEN-uh. (Harine) din toe-GAHR-uh Two Winds. ILL-ee-in. (Illian) [glossary: IHL-lee-ahn] ill-ee-AY-nuh. (? - AY is long A) CAN-door. (Kandor) (door like the word) lee-AH-nuh. (Leane) [glossary: lee-AHN-eh shah-REEF] mall-KEER. (Malkier) [glossary: mahl-KEER] my-EEN. (Mayene) [glossary: may-EHN] myur-an-DEE. (Murandy) [glossary: MEW-ran-dee] MEER-drahl. (Myrddraal) [glossary: MUHRD-draal] NEIGH-bliss. Sorry. NAY-bliss. [laughter] (Nae'blis) NEFF. (Naeff?) nee-AHM Passes (Niamh Passes) nigh-NEEV. (Nynaeve) [glossary: NIGH-neev al-MEER-ah] Plains of mah-REE-doh. (Plains of Maredo) ree-AH-nuh. (Reanne) seye-DAR. (saidar). [glossary: sah-ih-DAHR] seye-DEEN. (saidin) [glossary: sah-ih-DEEN] sall-DAY-uh. (Saldaea) [glossary: sahl-DAY-ee-ya] see-AEN. (Seaine?) Alan…

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    SHE-nar.

    MARIA SIMONS

    SHE-nar. (Shienar) [glossary: shy-NAHR] Swan. (Siuan) [glossary: SWAHN SAHN-chay] sor-uh-LEE-uh. (Sorilea) [glossary: soh-rih-LEE-ah] terra-BONN. (Tarabon) [glossary: TAH-rah-BON] TAR-win's Gap. (Tarwin's Gap) tell-uh-RON-ree-odd. (Tel'aran'rhiod) [glossary: tel-AYE-rahn-rhee-ODD] Tower of genn-JEYE. (Ghenjei) (hard G) truh-MALL-king. (Tremalking) [glossary: treh-MAL-king] too-AH-thuh-AHN. (Tuatha'an) [glossary: too-AH-thah-AHN]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Do you want to go over the saidar/saidin thing we talked about?

    MARIA SIMONS

    In the glossaries of the books, Jim has it sah-ih-DEEN and sah-ih-DAHR, but I swear, I don't think he pronounced it that way; I mean you kind of give a little hint of the i but not much: sah-ee-DEEN, sah-ee-DAHR.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yeah, he always seemed to be saying seye-DEEN and seye-DAHR.

    SPENCER POWELL

    I'm surprised at how many of those I thought I knew, but I didn't.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yeah. That's like, "Waait a second, that's not…but oh, I guess it is."

    MARK

    How do you pronounce the Traveling people again?

    MARIA SIMONS

    too-AH-thah-AHN.

    VIRGINIA

    There's something else with the double A there…

    MARIA SIMONS

    ah-tha-AHN mee-AIR. (Atha'an Miere)

    VIRGINIA

    Okay, great. Any others you can think of that are commonly mangled, that would have driven Jim crazy?

    MARIA SIMONS

    I think I've mentioned tah-EEM before, and egg-ee-AH-nin…

    VIRGINIA

    dee-MAN-dred? dee-MAHN-dred? DEE-man-dred?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Ehh...dee-MAHN-dred, I think…but I wouldn't swear dee-MAHN-dred. [glossary: DEE-man-drehd]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Pretty straightforward.

    VIRGINIA

    How about all of the Forsaken? A lot of them often get mangled, or a few. GRIN-doll?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Grindle, is how I say it. [glossary: GREHN-dahl] And it's interesting, just looking at a thing, and I pronounce CADD-in-soar (cadin'sor) wrong. [glossary: KAH-dihn-sohr]

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Oh really?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah, because it's supposed to be cah-DIN-soar. [It's not, according to the glossary.]

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Okay, because I say it the way you say it.

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, I think… [inaudible] so that makes sense.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Oh! ish-AH-may-el, and SAM-may-el. [glossary: ih-SHAH-may-EHL, SAHM-may-EHL] [When RJ said it, the 'may' part was more like the German 'Mai'.]

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Yes. Those are really common mistakes; I hear that a lot.

    VIRGINIA

    Ben [?] was right; we had that famous tagline from the original podcast, and we had this thing…I think, "Sammael was pretty buff!" [laughter] We used that a lot, and it sort of went away when he did, I guess.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Another one that I have lots of problems with—and I can't believe I didn't get it on the list—but is the GOLL-um (gholam), or the…I can't even pronounce it right now.

    MARK

    GO-lem?

    SPENCER POWELL

    Yeah, the GO-lem, that's chasing Mat.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yeah.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Gollum.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Gollum?

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, it's Gollum! [crosstalk]

    MARIA SIMONS

    I am not absolutely sure, but that's how I say it, so…

    VIRGINIA

    What about some of the other Seanchan beasts that made me think of, the grolm, then there were two of the others that…

    MARIA SIMONS

    ROCK-in (raken), and TOE-rock-in. (to'raken)

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, and then there was another one, the um…

    MARIA SIMONS

    Torm…the book is right in front of me…

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, maybe it was the name of that…oh, Suroth's pet!

    MARK

    S'redit?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh yes, that thing. I can't remember… [crosstalk]

    VIRGINIA

    Mandra…Mandragal?…Almandragal.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    The LOW-par (lopar)?

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, the lopar. Almandaragal was his name, or something like that?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Something like that. I would have to look it up.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    It was a LOW-par (lopar), wasn't it?

    VIRGINIA

    Yeah, lopar. I think there was another one that I couldn't…maybe I'm just hallucinating. [laughs]

    MARIA SIMONS

    Let's see…

    VIRGINIA

    I'm sure there's a zillion others I'll think of after you're off the air here with us…

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Oh, s'RED-dit (s'redit) is another one. Remember the elephant-like creature?

    MARIA SIMONS

    Corlm, C-O-R-L-M (I like that word). Torm…that's all I can find.

    VIRGINIA

    What about Tuon's new name as Empress?

    MARIA SIMONS

    for-too-OH-nah?

    VIRGINIA

    Fortuona, okay. I'm not sure how else you could pronounce that, but I've been wrong before, so...

    MARIA SIMONS

    That, I'm assuming is right; I'm pretty sure I heard Jim pronounce it that way, because that was his choice of name.

    VIRGINIA

    There must be something else; there seems like a million things, and that I didn't add enough to the list.

    MARIA SIMONS

    OH-geer…

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    moe-TIE? (???)

    VIRGINIA

    Oh! What about—speaking of historical figures—LAH-tra…poe-SAI? Or poe-SAY? deh-KYU-meh? (Latra Posae Decume)

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Oh yeah, LA-tra (LA rhymes with laugh)…

    VIRGINIA

    I got the Latra, but I'm not sure about the second and third names.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Boy.

    VIRGINIA

    It's P-O-S-A-E, and then D-E-C-U-M-E.

    MARIA SIMONS

    po-SAY-uh deh-COO-may.

    VIRGINIA

    deh-COO-may, okay. [crosstalk]

    MARIA SIMONS

    That's totally off the top of my head. I see it (?) and think it, anyway. po-SAY-uh deh-COO-may, yeah.

    Tags

  • 75

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Spencer Powell

    Alright, just a couple more questions. First off, who killed Asmodean? [laughter]

    Maria Simons

    I did! [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Maria did.

    VIRGINIA

    Robert Jordan killed him, actually.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Yup.

    Tags

  • 76

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Spencer Powell

    And secondly, I had forgotten about this until I checked my Twitter earlier this morning, but today actually is the anniversary of the passing of Robert Jordan…

    Maria Simons

    The third, yes.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh! I had forgotten that myself. That's scary.

    SPENCER POWELL

    Yeah. So, first off I think we should probably take a real quick moment of silence, and then after that, Maria and Alan, if you two would like to say something, anything to commemorate it for the podcast, we will get this out shortly so it won't be outdated. So, just a couple of seconds, and then if you two would like to say something.

    MARIA SIMONS

    "He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone." And I miss him still.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Very much.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I think we all do.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Very much missed.

    MARK

    As do we all.

    VIRGINIA

    Well, there will never be another like him. That's all I can say.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    And I should say, that's the first time I've ever heard anyone purposely have silence on the radio.

    VIRGINIA

    Well, it'll be a first, I suppose. I think I've heard it done before, but...

    MARK

    We've done it before.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Really?

    VIRGINIA

    Ah, yeah.

    MARK

    Like when we first found out about his passing, we had a quick—like very, very fast…

    SPENCER POWELL

    We had a quick recorded moment of silence.

    MARK

    …and we had a quick moment of silence, exactly.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Hmm. Sweet.

    Tags

  • 77

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Mark

    What has been the most enjoyable part of working on the Wheel of Time?

    Maria Simons

    Damn near all of it? Um…[laughter]…seriously.

    VIRGINIA

    You can tell us 'read and find out' on that one. [laughs]

    MARIA SIMONS

    You know, I came in and I started this job—it's been almost fifteen years now—and I came in and I was not helping with the books at all; I was doing fan mail and filing, and about that time they decided to do the audiobooks, and they were doing them, you know, male and female, and Jim looked at me one day and said, "They're doing male and female; I need somebody to read the books and mark when it changes from male to female point of view. Can you do that?" And I'm like, "Uh-huh, uh-huh! Get paid to read the Wheel of Time?" I mean, I was a big fan before I started the job, you gotta understand…so it's like, this is, you know, a dream come true. I'm getting paid to read the Wheel of Time. It's just so great. And Jim…he was just so much fun. He would come in in the morning, singing, and forget I was here and set the alarm so I would step out of my office and set it off, and the police would come. [laughter] He knew everything. I mean, he just knew so much, talking with him was, was…wonderful. And Harriet is just an amazing lady, and Brandon is way cool. I mean, this job is a dream. I love it. And I get to talk to great people like you guys, and go to cons.

    ANDREW GELOS

    Can I tell you how extremely jealous I am of you right now?

    VIRGINIA

    Oh yeah.

    MARIA SIMONS

    I'm sorry!

    VIRGINIA

    Jealous enough to turn to the Dark One! [laughter]

    SPENCER POWELL

    Perfect servant! Perfect servant.

    MARK

    What about you, Alan?

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Well, I've been here, I guess, a little over nine years at this point, and just to back up what Maria said, you know, just being able to hang out with Jim and work with him on a daily basis was such a great kick. We're here surrounded by a physical representation of Jim's mind, in a way; there are 15,000 volumes in our offices, many of which are reference books, and it's just so wonderful to be able to, you know, tap that side of your mind. And Jim would ask the most obscure questions to be dug out in various places, and that's just such a great amount of fun for me, just digging out useless information of any possible sort. He would…you know, there are things that go into the books that are important to know about, and as you know, Jim was very, very fastidious and rigorous in his background of what he was writing about. If he wrote about blacksmithing it was going to be absolutely correct in all ways, as best as he could make it, and so Maria and I both became part of that process, just digging up a lot of things for him. So it's, you know…what we've got here is essentially a job where she and I come in 8, 9 hours a day, live in a total fantasy world. 8 hours, 7 or 8 hours are spent asleep. Much of that is very vivid dreams, so it's another fantasy world. That only leaves about 8 hours of reality that we have to deal with. And you know, we've found ways of making that kind of disappear also. So, it's great. I mean, I figure I'm living about 85% total fantasy at this point [laughter] so that's…it's a wonderful place to be. I'd recommend it to everyone out there.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah.

    VIRGINIA

    Unfortunately, there's something of a limit to the number of Robert Jordans that there are in the world, although that leads me right into my next question...

    Tags

  • 78

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Virginia

    Now that…obviously no one can fill the hole that Jim Rigney did. I mean, no one can take his place. But we have Brandon now, and you're working with Brandon, but now it's a long-distance relationship. How is that working out? And he's such a maniac for work; I cannot imagine how any human being gets the amount of writing that he does done, and all the other things that he does.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I'm convinced he's a robot. [crosstalk]

    VIRGINIA

    He's an android, yeah; he's an android; I'm sure of it. He's a big cuddly android, but I think, you know…really suspect!

    Maria Simons

    He's pretty amazing, I mean…but the work ethic he has is just incredible. I mean…The Way of Kings and Towers of Midnight, the same year. It's amazing.

    VIRGINIA

    I know! And Alcatraz too, I think…and a tour! Two tours!

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh yeah! Two tours, and a couple of cons—or more, actually, than a couple. But the long-distance thing…you know, living in the future makes it easy, and we actually, here, all of us, um…older farts in Charleston made the jump to digital editing for Towers of Midnight which made it a lot easier than The Gathering Storm when we were still doing everything on paper.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Oh, wow! I didn't realize you guys did that all on paper!

    MARIA SIMONS

    Oh yeah…oh yeah.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I can't even imagine how complicated it would be to do it on paper.

    MARIA SIMONS

    It was pretty, uh…it worked. We got it done, but we made [?], and it was still kinda complicated because I had no idea how to do some things, and I have to email, and Peter—Brandon's assistant—would tell me how to do it. Peter's great; Peter is fabulous, and…

    JENNIFER LIANG

    I know; I heart Peter.

    MARIA SIMONS

    I wish I could have been at DragonCon, just so I could have met him.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, me too.

    MARIA SIMONS

    But, um…you know, it's…it works. You know, we've got email, we email back and forth; occasionally we do the phone call; occasionally we actually get together, and it's...

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Yeah, probably the most difficult thing is the time difference, and…not only is he, what, three hours behind us, but Brandon does so much of his work, ah, in the evening, and in the early hours, and consequently doesn't get up at five in the morning…

    MARIA SIMONS

    That's usually when he goes to bed.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    …and so, if he has to ask us something quickly in the middle of work, or if we have to ask him something quickly, you know, we might have to wait for one or the other to wake up and get to the office.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    He might as well be in New Zealand, as far as the time overlap.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Exactly.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah. But, you know, we made it work.

    VIRGINIA

    Cool. Well, I think Peter's probably got Dream Job #2.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Yeah.

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, I dunno, how do you keep up with somebody who's like that? He's just…I mean, just talking to him in person—and I'm sure that probably Robert Jordan was the same way—I think it's a little overwhelming. There's so much creativity going on, and you can see that the mind is working so fast, it's almost like two or three different things going on at one time. And you know it's not, but it just almost seems that way, and you can almost get a little overwhelmed just trying to keep up with the flow of ideas, you know.

    MARIA SIMONS

    And that's very true, with Jim, and especially Jim and Harriet talking together sometimes. [Alan laughs] You know, it would be like, "Wow. What…what? Wow." Because they're just so incredibly bright, and it was just…very cool.

    Tags

  • 79

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Question

    There was a question about the process of writing A Memory of Light.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Peter first spoke in general terms about Brandon's writing routine. He said that Brandon typically gets up around noon, writes from about 1-4pm, spends time with family and stuff, then goes back to writing from about 8pm-4am, and finally sleeps from about 4am to noon. Rinse, cycle, repeat. Peter also said that Brandon has a treadmill desk, and he frequently works at that when he's home or by one of the fireplaces he has in his house. Harriet then noted that she loves fireplaces and wanted to know whether Brandon's were wood-burning or gas. Peter said they're gas fireplaces.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Then Harriet described the editing process for A Memory of Light. She said that Brandon has completed the first draft (as was previously reported). Team Jordan is currently working on reviewing the first draft and making suggestions for corrections and edits. They have divided the manuscript into 9 sections plus the epilogue for editing purposes; Team Jordan has sent the edits for parts 1-6 to Brandon and are currently working on edits for the later sections. [Brandon recently tweeted that he is about halfway done with the second draft, and it is going well so far.]

    With regard to the editing duties, Harriet primarily oversees the characterizations and prose, Maria deals with continuity issues, and Alan deals with military stuff, geography, and the timeline. Harriet also said that she and Brandon have had some "animated" conversations about whether or not to cut some specific scenes.

    After all the suggested edits for the first draft are sent to Brandon and he has made the revisions, then presumably Team Jordan will review the second draft and provide another round of suggestions for revisions. The beta reader phase has to be fit in there somewhere, too. Ultimately, Harriet said that the goal for getting a final draft to Tor is June 15, 2012. That should give Tor plenty of time to get the book out by January 2013.

    Tags

  • 80

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Melissa Craib

    Melissa Craib, this year's JordanCon master of ceremonies, asked the Team Jordan members which parts of the story they had been surprised about.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Harriet told about an incident she has described before from when she was writing the blurb for the dust jacket of The Dragon Reborn and finally realized that RJ intended Callandor to be an analog of the sword in the stone. She yelled down to RJ, "You son of a ****, you've done it to me again!"

    Maria Simons

    Maria said that she was surprised... well, actually I've forgotten what Maria was surprised about. Maybe somebody else remembers...was it from Knife of Dreams when Semirhage blows Rand's hand off? That's what comes to mind, but I don't remember any details about why that surprised her, really, so maybe that's not it. :s

    Alan Romanczuk

    Alan at first said that he wasn't surprised by anything; he had figured it all out, of course. Then he owned up to being a little surprised about the scene in Crossroads of Twilight in which Perrin chops off the hand of one of the captured Shaido, because it showed the depths to which a person could go when pushed to the brink.

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Peter said he was surprised when it was revealed that Demandred was... (yeah, he was messing with us).

    Footnote

    Nalesean at Theoryland pointed out that Maria said that she was surprised by the death of Rolan during the battle of Malden.

    Tags

  • 81

    Interview: 2012

    Brandon Sanderson (16 May 2012)

    I'm sorry I don't have more specific WoT posts for you—I know that Harriet prefers me to be more closed-mouthed. However...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Maria from Team Jordan has finished her revision notes for the entire book, as has Harriet herself. So we're only waiting on Alan's notes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    As he's playing "Great Captain" for me on A Memory of Light, his notes are vital—and he needs to be detailed. When I get them, I can finish revising.

    Roberto Sánze

    Sooooo...there might be a sooner release date than the current for January?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is possible, but I don't know how likely.

    Roberto Sánze

    Darn, I need to haste to be ready for A Memory of Light once it releases. Is there gonna be a ebook version along with the physical book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    (Winces.) Harriet has a distrust of ebooks; she prefers to delay the release. It is her call. (Ebook is a few months later.)

    Terez

    Do we have chapter names yet? Or do you know how many chapters there will be? Or is that a secret?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No chapter names yet, as it won't be until this draft is finished that I settle on the number of chapters. Some are being combined.

    Mark Prybyla

    I'm truly hoping this book is 1/3 battles/fights.

    Brandon Sanderson

    More than 1/3, I'd say...

    Daniel Shepard

    Forgive me for not understanding, but what does this mean? Release date's not going to change, is it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Probably not. It's just a progress update, so people know things are still moving behind-the-scenes.

    Richard Collett

    How's The Stormlight Archive coming? I need more.

    Brandon Sanderson

    A Memory of Light comes first. I will get to the next Stormlight book soon, but not until A Memory of Light is done to my satisfaction.

    (Facebook)


    Yosun Erdemli

    So this means we will be reading the final volume sooner than first announced?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is possible, but I don't know how likely. I still need to do two drafts, I feel. Then there are beta reads, then proofreads, then we need at least two months to get the books printed and shipped.

    Adam Sloan

    What does it take to be one of the beta readers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Be one of the major members of fandom for years, and personally know Harriet. (Sorry.)

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  • 82

    Interview: 2012

    Maria Simons (21 May 2012)

    Team Jordan update: We’ve been getting a lot of questions about Brandon’s note that Harriet and I are finished with A Memory of Light, and Alan is almost finished. “Finished” here refers only to the first draft. The same day that I finished A Memory of Light, I started A Memory of Light (the second draft, or at least the portion of the second draft that Brandon has sent us). Harriet has already completed that section, and is ready to move on when we receive more. Alan should finish the first draft this week, and he will immediately begin again too. We’re not by any means truly finished with the book—we’re all working very hard, and we trust that Brandon is too. We want to get every detail right, and that takes time. Don't worry; it's worth waiting for.

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  • 83

    Interview: Nov 9th, 2009

    Question

    How much leeway were you given when writing the book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    He was given complete freedom to write, but that he was in constant contact with Maria and Alan about details. He compared it to a broken vase, much of it could be glued together but there were places where there were holes that needed to be filled in.

    Maria Simons

    Maria interjected with the fact that there are well over 1200 files that are at least several sentences long and many many more that are shorter than that.

    Harriet McDougal

    There was some back and forth with Harriet and Brandon about the writing/editing process. Harriet said a good editor never tells an author how to write. Brandon said that he actually writes the book for Harriet and it’s Harriet’s job to perfect it.

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  • 84

    Interview: Jul 21st, 2012

    Jeffrey Daniel

    So what do you think the most challenging part of writing A Memory of Light was? Was it those logistics, or was it writing battle scenes, or...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, the battle scenes were the toughest part of A Memory of Light, definitely. At least the toughest for me, because it's not necessarily something I naturally excel at. I think I'm okay at it. I've read a lot of books...but I've read a lot of books. I haven't done it. Fortunately, Alan Romanczuk has done it. He was a soldier and Jim was a soldier, so I'm really relying a lot on him for getting it to feel right. You know, my book learning only gets me so far in the way that tactics are done and the way a battlefield plays out. So, that's been one of the big slow-downs for this. The other big slow-down for this has been just making sure we get everything in there. There are a lot of things that need to go in the book and there are some things that aren't going to make it. Jim said that certain things don't get resolved, and there are certain things we just didn't have time for and we said, "Okay, this just doesn't get resolved." And I'm sorry about that. He warned you, I will warn you: there are some non-resolutions.

    Joe O'Hara

    I don't know how other people would feel about that, but I kind of enjoy that. To me, that's where a fandom would go. We can continue to speculate and wonder and think about.

    Jennifer Liang

    Yeah, it gives us something to talk about. We can ride that or like ten years at least. (laughter)

    Jeffrey Daniel

    JordanCon will be good for a while. We'll have a lot of talking panels on that one.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I will try to keep them quiet. There are two deleted scenes from the book that actually covered very interesting things. And after the books are out I will give you guys some hints and then you can spend the next ten years deciding what was in them.

    Jennifer Liang

    Yeah, we'll ask you some really weird questions over the next ten years. We used to do that to Robert Jordan. We'd ask him very oblique questions, hinting at the thing we really wanted to know, because we were like doing process of elimination, and logic trees and...yeah, he caught on.

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  • 85

    Interview: Jul 21st, 2012

    Phillip

    For Brandon, you have a career on your own as an author....

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes.

    Phillip

    Since you've had this other career—which has helped, I'm sure, in a lot of ways—what impact has this been on your original writing career, I mean I know you had to have slowed down your progress and your series, but you've still been writing those. What are the biggest impacts you've seen on your writing career because of taking on the Wheel of Time?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It's definitely done some...it's made me have to put down projects. In fact, next year, I have coming out the projects I was working on in 2007 when this came my way; The Rithmatist and Steelheart are both books that I did way back then that I didn't feel that I was able to release in the middle of the Wheel of Time books, even though I had them done, because I wouldn't have been able to do the revisions on them, and because I wouldn't be able to support them; I wouldn't be able to do sequels and things like that. They're both YA books. And that's, you know...when I accepted this, I said "Okay, I'm shelving these things." I did get to do a couple of books, I got to do The Way of Kings, which, granted, I already had a draft of that done. So really, the only book in these last years, the last five years that I've been doing this, that I've written from scratch and released was Alloy of Law. And so it's going to...it did kind of slow me down. The only reason it didn't slow me down as much as it could have was because I had all of this stuff done already. I had a great big backlog of books, because I enjoy writing, and I've been writing for years, and back then I wasn't as popular as I am now, so Tor would put things in slots later on, like...while I've been working on these, Warbreaker and Mistborn 3 came out, both of which were done years before I was offered the Wheel of Time. And so...yeah, all of this stuff that I had been working on long ago got delayed, and that was just fine—I went into this eyes open—but it is going to be nice to be able to go back to these things and give them some of the support that I've wanted all along.

    You know, this project took more time than all of us expected it to. I had to say yes sight unseen to knowing how big it was. I knew what Jim had said, but I didn't know how much of it was done. I didn't know that we had two hundred pages out of two thousand. There was no way for me to know how much would need to be done. So yeah, it's been a big long deviation, but not a distraction, because I think my writing has grown by leaps and bounds. It's kind of like I had to go pump iron, because writing in the Wheel of Time has been much harder than writing on anything else I've done, and I have been forced to grow, and you can see my being forced to grow between the books in the Wheel of Time books. I think my writing is way better in Towers of Midnight than it was in The Gathering Storm, particularly in some of the ways that that Jim was strong. And so, I think that's helped me. It's certainly not an experience that I would trade for anything. I got to read the ending in 2007, so there's that. (laughter) But yeah, it's been a wonderful experience, but boy, it's been a big, big, big deviation. It's not where I thought my career would go at all.

    Joe O'Hara

    Was it daunting seeing just that small amount of work that was taken care of before you stepped on?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, it's daunting in two ways: First, I got that. It was really nice to have the ending. Like, having the prologue and the ending basically done—those were the two things that he did the most work on—meant that I had the bookends, which is how I build an outline anyway. I know where I start, I know my ending, and I build an outline out of that. But at the same time, there's three million words of notes about the series, which is daunting in another way. Yes, there's two hundred pages of work done on the book, and then there's this stack over here of all these other notes that include all of these things that are just mind-boggling, the stuff that's in there. We released a few of them last year for you guys. Was it last year that we released the notes?

    Jennifer Liang

    Yeah, we got the page on Cadsuane and...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, the page on Cadsuane and stuff like that. You just see all of weird things that he had in his notes. I have all the same sort of weird stuff in my notes about like Stormlight and stuff, but it's just fun to see. You go pore through these notes...he has the most random stuff. Lists of trees, lists of people, lists of this, and just millions and millions and words of this stuff, more than I can keep track of at all. It requires Maria and Alan to keep track of all this stuff. So it was also daunting in that, yes there are two hundred pages written, which actually nice, because as I've said before, if the book had been 80% of the way done, they wouldn't have needed to hire me, they wouldn't have needed to bring me in. When a book is 80% of the way done, that's when you get a ghostwriter, or Harriet just does it herself. She really could have done it in-house herself and finished that and said "Look, here we're going to do a few patches and stuff, but the book is mostly done."

    And so, getting there and saying "Hey, I actually get to do something with this, I have an opportunity to add the scenes that I've been wanting as a fan for years and years, so I get a chance to actually write these characters, rather than coming in and just patching some holes," was very thrilling for me at the same time. You know, I worried that I would get there and it would just be patching holes—"Write these five scenes," or something like that—and that would have meant I wouldn't have really had a part in it. Granted, that would have been better, because it would have meant there was more Jim in it, and it would have made a better book, but at the same time, when I got to see those two hundred pages, I was saddened but excited at the same time.

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  • 86

    Interview: Jul 21st, 2012

    Question

    When you're...you know, speaking with regards to all three books that you wrote, if there's an issue where you think a character or a plot should go one way, and Harriet or any of the others thinks it should go another way, how does that work?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Harriet wins. Harriet always wins. Usually what happens is that there'll be...if Harriet says something, we just do it. The only time when there's questioning is when I disagree with Maria or Alan, and we both kind of make our arguments. We do these in-line edits with track changes in Microsoft Word; we'll have whole conversations there, where I'll say "This is why I think this character would do what they're doing," and Maria would come in and say, "This is why I think you're wrong and they wouldn't do this," and we'll have big discussions, and Harriet'll make the call, and then I'll do it as Harriet says, 'cause Harriet knows the characters better than anyone.

    And so there are times when I've been overruled—it happens on every book—and there are times where Harriet said, "No, I think Brandon's right," and Maria and Alan—her superfans—disagree, but the way that fandom works, we all disagree on things. You'll find this, and I disagree with some people on how character interpretations will happen, and things like that. Some people, for instance, don't think my Talmanes is true to Jim's Talmanes. Things like that. That's the sort of thing we're arguing over. It's very rarely over main characters, but it's like, "Is Talmanes acting like Talmanes would?" And I read the character one way, and some people read the character another way, and I just have to go with my interpretation, and if Harriet says, "No, this isn't right," I revise it. If Harriet says, "No, this feels right to me," then we just go with it.

    Question

    Was there ever a case where you and Maria and Alan had a difference of opinion and Harriet had a completely different take?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That all four of us had a different take? Yeah, that's happened; that's very rare but it has happened. We're trying to piece together something that's...there's always this consideration of "What would Jim do?" But there's also a consideration of Brandon as author, not knowing what Jim would do, what does Brandon think needs to happen narratively? And there are some things where I, reading the books as an author, say "This is where he was going." "No, he didn't say it in the notes." "No, it's nowhere in there; he doesn't make mention of it." "This is where he was going; my understanding of story structure, plotting and things, and I can say, you know, as sure as I can say anything, that this is what he was going to do." And, you know, sometimes Maria and Alan, they look at the notes and say, "No, that's not at all what he was going to do; look what the notes say." And I say, "No, that's not what they're saying," and we have arguments about that too.

    There's lots of discussing going on. We're all very passionate about the Wheel of Time. It'd be like getting Jenn and Jason from Dragonmount and Matt from Theoryland together and hashing out what they think about where Demandred is, or something like that. There are gonna be lots of passionate discussions. I think, at the end of the day, that makes the book better, and the fact that we have kind of...Harriet tends to just...if she has a feeling, she lets us argue about it, and then she says, like...you know, 'cause she's the one that would sit at dinner and discuss the characters with Jim. None of us did that, and she did that for twenty years, so...yeah.

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  • 87

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Richard Fife

    I really enjoyed the comic books that are being done, the Eye of the World comic book that's being done right now. I know Maria's working on that quite a bit, and Alan. You wanna talk about that a little bit, about how that's going for you?

    Maria Simons

    Actually, we are getting close to the end of The Eye of the World, and it's going well. We haven't talked at all about The Great Hunt, but I'm hoping that we'll start. We've got one more script to go for The Eye of the World, and then hopefully we will be moving on, and the next graphic novel will be out in the fall, part two of The Eye of the World, and it's a lot of fun doing that, and I hope you'll all check it out.

    Alan Romanczuk

    It's put us in awe, also, of the amount of work that goes into creating a graphic novel. A great deal on our part, looking stuff over for approval, but what's happening in the graphic shop, and it's not unusual at all to get emails at 10pm Friday night, or midnight Saturday night, you know, "Here's the latest stuff from us." You know, when do you guys sleep? Any of you who are graphic artists out there, I guess you know what it's like. It's total geekdom. You don't think about eating, sleeping...you just do it. And the amount of change that has to go on in every single panel is pretty awesome.

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  • 88

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Melissa Craib

    I have a question for all four of you; it's one that I always like asking you. I think that Robert Jordan really liked to surprise his readers, and went to extraordinary lengths to do so. And I truly will have many, many surprises in this upcoming book, but speaking of books past, can you tell us an example of when you were surprised when you read what we've read now. I know you have a good one, Harriet.

    Harriet McDougal

    I've generally written most of the flap copies on all the books. The flap copy is what's on the inner side of the cover of the hardcover, on the dust jacket, the stuff that says "So-and-so..." I remember one of my favorite ones was when I went and..."Siuan Sanche is suspected of barn-burning, in her tattered straw hat." But I was writing the flap copy for The Dragon Reborn, and at the end of the flap copy, I said he is pulling the sword from the Stone... "You son of a gun, you've done it again!" (laughter) But I honestly hadn't figured out it was the sword in the stone. And it really did surprise me, even though I'd been all the way through it, and had edited it, and was writing that flap copy.

    Melissa Craib

    Do you have one Maria?

    Maria Simons

    Yeah. It's not a huge one, but we were working on Knife of Dreams—I almost said Knife of Daggers, and I was like, "I know that's wrong." (laughter)—and I got to the part at the end, where Perrin whacks Rolan, and I went running downstairs..."Oh my god! You killed Rolan! I can't believe you killed Rolan!" And Robert Jordan says, "What? He was toast from the start!" (laughter)

    Melissa Craib

    Do you have one Alan?

    Alan Romanczuk

    No, I've pretty much nailed it all along. (laughter)

    Harriet McDougal

    We all tell the truth, all the time.

    Alan Romanczuk

    One of the scenes I keep coming back to that very much impressed me was when Perrin cut off the limb of the captured Shaido, which was a scene...it was surprising, because this was a fellow who had been resisting his lower urges, if you will, all along, but his love for his wife was so great that we saw the degree to which he would push himself to save her, and it's the first inkling we had of what kind of stuff Perrin was made of, up to that point, I think.

    Melissa Craib

    Peter, do you have one?

    Peter Ahlstrom

    When Demandred was revealed to be... (laughter) (applause)

    Audience

    That's not nice!

    Peter Ahlstrom

    Um...sorry, I got nothing.

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  • 89

    Interview: Apr 14th, 2012

    Question

    I was just wondering how overwhelming it was when you first took on the job of taking up the reins of the Wheel of Time. How much was it overwhelming—the amount of detail and layering that Jordan had set up in order to continue on with finishing off the series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are a couple of things that Robert Jordan did, like...there are many things he did better than I do, but there are two things that he did amazingly better than I do that have been really hard to try and approach. The first one is his mastery of description. I...prose is not....you know, I do serviceable prose. I don't do beautiful prose in most cases. I occasionally can turn a phrase, but he could do beautiful prose in every paragraph, and that's just not one of my strengths. Pat Rothfuss is another one who can do that, if you're read Name of the Wind; it's just beautiful, every line. Robert Jordan I felt was like that, just absolute beauty.

    The other thing that he was really good at was subtle foreshadowing across lots and lots of books. And it's not something I'd ever had to do before, unless you count my hidden epic, and I had never had to try and approach that level of subtlety, and it was a real challenge to try and catch all of those balls that he'd tossed in the air and he'd been keeping juggling. In fact, I would say, one of the most challenging parts, if not the most challenging part of this, was to keep track of all those subplots and make sure that I was not dropping too many of those balls. And you'll be able to see when you read the books which of those subplots were really important to me as a fan and which ones I was not as interested in, because some of those, I catch less deftly than others, and some of them I just snatch from the air and slam into this awesome sequence, and some of them I say, "Yeah, that's there."

    And that's the danger of having a fan that does this. There were so many of those things. Fortunately, he left some good notes on a lot of them, and in some of them I was able to just slide in his scenes, and in others I had to decide how to catch that, and what to best do with it. But there's just so much. So much undercurrent going on through the whole books, through all of them, and so many little details in the notes that it's easy to get overwhelmed by it. Fortunately I have Team Jordan, Maria and Alan, to catch a lot of those things that I miss, but even with them there are things he was doing, that we don't even know what he was planning to do, that we just have to leave as is, and let it lie rather than trying to wrap it up poorly, because we don't know how he was doing to do it.

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  • 90

    Interview: 2012

    philosophyguru (December 2012)

    Brandon Sanderson (December 2012)

    It was very interesting to read this while trying to figure out what scenes she was referring to...

    philosophyguru

    I know you're incredibly busy on Stormlight 2, but if you have a few minutes, I would love to hear how you approached the notes that RJ left behind. I've heard the story about the ending and who killed Asmodean when you first visited Harriet's house, but where did you go from there? I assume you didn't just read all of the notes straight through...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Well, okay, this is going to be kind of long.

    To understand my next step, you have to understand what we mean by "Notes." There are really three groups of these.

    1) Robert Jordan's Worldbuilding Notes. These were in a series of dozens, maybe hundreds of files embedded chaotically inside of files inside of files, using his own system of notation. The notes reach all the way back to early books he was working on, as he was working on them. They aren't intended to be read by anyone other than him, and are sometimes very difficult to figure out. This is the group that Harriet has said, in her estimation, include a total wordcount equal to or greater to that of the published series.

    2) The notes for the last book, gathered by his assistants Maria and Alan, with Harriet's help. These are far more focused on the last book, notes that RJ wrote specifically focusing on the last book. This is a much more manageable amount, maybe fifty or a hundred pages. It includes interviews that Alan and Maria did with RJ before he died, asking him what was to happen to certain characters.

    3) Scenes for the last book, either in written form or dictated during his last months. This includes some completed scenes. (The last sequence in the book, for example. Also a lot of prologue material, including the scene with the farmer in The Gathering Storm, the Borderlander Tower scene in Towers of Midnight, and the Isam prologue scene from A Memory of Light.) A lot of these are fragments of scenes, a paragraph here and there, or a page of material that he expected to be expanded to a full chapter. This is different from #2 to me in that these are direct scene constructions, rather than "notes" explaining what was to happen.

    Together, #2 and #3 are about 200 pages. That is what I read the night I visited Harriet, and that is what I used to construct my outline.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I took all of the items, but particularly the things in 2&3, and then I re-read the series start to finish, taking notes on character motivations, plots that had not been resolved, and foreshadowing. I used this to create a skeleton, using character touchstones from the notes (like Egwene's climactic moments in The Gathering Storm) to construct plot cycles.

    Where there were big holes, I used my instincts as a writer and my re-read to develop what the story needed. From there, I started writing in viewpoint clusters. I would take character who were in the same area, and write their story for a chunk of time straight through. Then I would go back and do the same for another group of characters.

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  • 91

    Interview: Jan 9th, 2013

    Question

    How do you keep track of all those characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Lots of use of online resources. Also, Maria and Alan are invaluable assets for that. Brandon told a funny story about trying to figure out who was with Perrin, and Maria pulled out some notes from Robert Jordan that had a list of every single person from the Two Rivers that came with Perrin! Brandon also said he thinks there are more than 2800 named characters throughout the entire series.

    Footnote

    Brandon has told the story of the "with Perrin" file a numer of times before; in this example from 2009, the person he said that he queried was Alan. Other times, he has just cited "RJ's assistants".

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  • 92

    Interview: Jan 12th, 2013

    Question

    How does it feel now that you are done with the series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Bittersweet. Has been reading the series longer than he has had some friends!

    Harriet McDougal

    It was truly done well.

    Maria Simons

    Bittersweet. And wow!

    Alan Romanczuk

    Brain Dead.

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  • 93

    Interview: Jan 12th, 2013

    Question

    Which of the great captains do you identify with?

    Alan Romanczuk

    Bela (lots of laughter from everyone). They are all really great.

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  • 94

    Interview: Jan 8th, 2013

    Question ()

    What was it like editing as Team Jordan?

    Harriet McDougal

    It was a team process—military history, characters, and continuity.

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  • 95

    Interview: Jan 9th, 2013

    Question

    How did you keep track of all the characters?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There are, what? What are we up to, like 2800 named characters in the Wheel of Time? [laughter] It's more than two thousand; it was more than two thousand when I started, and it was like 2400 or something like that when I started, and I've added a few. So, how can we keep track of all of these characters? That actually is when people ask me, what the hardest part about this was, I often say that that was the hardest part. It's not just keeping track of them, because actually keeping track of them is somewhat easy; there's lots of fan resources, which I use. The Encyclopaedia-WoT is my favorite, though tarvalon.net runs a very nice Wiki which goes more in-depth and things. And keeping track—that's the easy part. The harder part is, Robert Jordan gave them all voices, right? Everybody talked in their own way, and was their own person, and when, you know, Perrin is traveling with like three random Wise Ones, they're all individual personalities, and so before I could write a scene, I had to go back and remind myself, how each of these three people...what their attitudes were, and how they spoke, that sort of thing. It was very difficult.

    I don't know if you—I mean, I tell this story; I don't know if you guys have heard this before—but the level of detail Robert Jordan went into in the worldbuilding...there was one point where I was working on Towers of Midnight, and I sent an email to Maria saying, "I can't keep track of who is with Perrin. Do you have just a list somewhere?" And I was really just meaning the Wise Ones, right? And, you know, named characters. Maria comes back and says, "Well I just dug this out of the notes; I hadn't seen it before. Maybe this will help. It's a file called 'With Perrin'". I went, "Oh, good." And I opened it up...no, that's not what it is; it is the names of all the Two Rivers folk who haven't been named in the books yet. [laughter] ...who are traveling with Perrin, and often a little bit about each of them, and a list of several dozen names of people who haven't been named yet. That's the level of detail we're talking about with this, and it was a challenge; it was a challenge on all of us.

    Fortunately, we did have Maria and Alan, who we should mention—Alan Romanczuk, who is also one of the assistants and very good at this sort of thing, and I would focus my writing, particularly in first draft, on just getting the emotional content of a scene down, right? Get the narrative flow down, make sure it's working, and I would try to get all the voices of the characters right, but I wouldn't worry as much about continuity. I would then send it to Maria, and she would send back this thing with all of these notes saying, "Oh Brandon. Oh Brandon, you can't do this." "Oh Brandon, you killed her." "Oh Brandon..." You know, stuff like that. You see her shaking her head over each of these things. And then we would try and fix all of the problems caused by that, and that's kind of how it went.

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  • 96

    Interview: Jan 10th, 2013

    Question

    Has it gotten any easier to dig through RJ’s very personalized and, in some ways, maddeningly genius organizational system?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You’d actually have to ask that of Maria and Alan since they are the ones who dig through it. I gave up on that after about two months into the first book because I couldn't make heads or tails of it; I just started asking questions of them. It still takes a long time sometimes to get responses, not because they're not working but because it's hard to find, so I don't know that it's gotten that much better.

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  • 97

    Interview: Jan 10th, 2013

    Question

    Now that the series is done, how does it feel and what are you planning to do now?

    Harriet McDougal

    I feel very satisfied that it’s complete; very sad that it is another occasion for me to say ‘goodbye’ to Robert Jordan. The last five years have been one goodbye after another, and none of them are easy. But I knew that he wanted the series finished, and it's done, and that's very satisfying, and also very sad. So it's sad, happy, bitter, sweet—a whole mix. It goes in and out of these things.

    There is still an Encyclopedia for me to do with Maria Simons and Alan Romanczuk; Maria worked with my husband, and now with me, for seventeen years, and Alan has been around for twelve, so they know the material very well and have been...I started the material that will be the Encyclopedia back with The Eye of the World, writing down proper nouns. Then it got to be The Great Hunt, and I said, "Oh Lord." [laughter] You get pages of the Aiel: who are in which sept, who are in which warrior society, who is married to whom—the whole thing. I think y'all will like it, and we will be turning it in perhaps some time next year...I mean this year. We're in '13 already. By its nature it couldn't be done until the series was complete. It may amuse you to know that in the contract it says it will be delivered in 2008. [laughter]

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  • 98

    Interview: Feb 1st, 2013

    Question

    What kind of research did you have to do to make the battle tactics so believable?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Memory of Light tactics were the things I was most worried about getting right. RJ was more a military historian than me and he was a soldier, so we went looking for help. Harriet knows a man named Bernard Cornwell who writes a lot of military fiction, so he helped us, and Alan Romanczuk is a war historian, who was able to help us a lot. He built the battle plan for the entire war, as far as troop movements and the tactical portion of the Last Battle. Connecting them and making it meld into the story with the characters was my job. We went rounds about "this is tactically sound" or "no it's not", so Alan was a big help making it believable. I did research, but my feeling is that I can get to 70–80% of knowledge on a subject pretty quickly through a month or two of research, but getting that last 20% is something that takes 10 years of work. My goal is to get to 70–80, and then give it to someone who knows their stuff and have them help me from there.

    Chris W

    The names of the people Brandon referenced here were probably butchered. I was just trying to keep up with him so I could record the main parts of his response instead of focusing on the names of his references. [Fixed—Terez]

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  • 99

    Interview: Feb 7th, 2013

    Question

    Who was the most challenging WoT character to write?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Mat was the most challenging, the second most was Aviendha. He explains that it is hard to write about someone so different than yourself and the Aiel culture seemed the most unique in the series. Of Rand's three women, Aviendha is Brandon's favorite. He recalls that after writing his first Aviendha scene, Harriet read it and then told him that it was a "picture perfect Elayne." Brandon went on to discuss how he has to write his way into his characters. Vin, in Mistborn, was originally a boy. Lots of his early work on The Gathering Storm was scrapped by Harriet because Brandon wasn't "there yet" with the characters.

    He then goes on to discuss the volume of notes left by Robert Jordan. There are about 200 pages for A Memory of Light and then there is roughly 32,000 pages of other notes for the series, three times as large as the entire series put together. Brandon tells of how he tried to open it once and it crashed his computer because the file was so large. He also wants to commend the enormous efforts of Alan and Maria for their help in managing all of the details of the series.

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  • 100

    Interview: Feb 15th, 2013

    Rebecca Lovatt

    Also of interest to WoT fans and aspiring writers, both: one fan asked, given the lack of majorly epic-scale battles in Brandon's other work, how he approached the near endless warfare that makes up the bulk of A Memory of Light.

    Brandon Sanderson (paraphrased)

    The answer: research, research, research, and lots of help from experts. Brandon asserts (and I can believe) that he can get himself to about 80% expert on just about any topic in the course of writing prep, but his lack of personal experience with warfare (reminding us of Mr. Jordan's service in Vietnam) put him at a disadvantage in accurately conveying what needed to be conveyed in the last battle. Military buffs and armchair historians came to the rescue (including Team Jordan member Alan Romanczuk), outlining a series of strategies and tactics based on real-world battles that Brandon used as a guide. However, Tarmon Gai'don being on a somewhat different scale than we're used to in our Age, both metrically and dramatically, there was a lot of back-and-forth between Brandon and the battle guys about amping up the drama without sacrificing realism—inserting twists and character moments to make us cheer or weep.

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  • 101

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Terez

    The second time through I made sure I was last in line. There was one guy who tried to be last until I convinced him I had more questions than he did. He was asking stuff on behalf of his friend David who was ill and couldn't be there. He video-recorded it and asked Brandon to address David personally because it would 'make his world'.

    Question

    Robert Jordan...did he lay out all the war tactics for you, because he is a war historian, or was...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Actually, David, no he didn't; he didn't have an opportunity to do that. He indicated that it was supposed to be a big, long battle for the last book—basically all battle—but he didn't give us much of the tactics. There are a few things that he put in there, that he told us to do. But what we did is, we went to several experts that Harriet knows, and asked them for suggestions, and then we relied on Alan Romanczuk, who is part of Team Jordan, and we had him outline the battle tactics, which I then used to tell the story.

    Question

    Okay, good. Thank you. And another question:

    When you got his notes, were they digitized or was it a big stack of papers?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was both. I got them in digital form—the bulk of it was in digital form—but they had printed off about 200 pages of them for me, which were ones that were relevant specifically to the last book, which turned into three.

    Question

    Okay, and the final question is:

    Are there any—and I'm sure you get this question a lot—are there any plans for any aspect of the Wheel of Time universe to keep going, maybe in another story?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, we are not doing any more books. Robert Jordan specifically didn't want more books being written, so we feel it's best to both respect his wishes and stop while we're ahead. That doesn't preclude video games from being made, and so we perhaps may see films or video games or sort of things like that that will tell some of these other stories, but as for fiction, it is done. So, thank you for the questions, David, and thank you for reading.

    Fan

    A movie would be irritating, because it would just ruin it. They could never capture it.

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  • 102

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Terez

    The name...how do you pronounce it? Is it no-tay, or no-tie?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, it's...you pronounce the K.

    Terez

    Oh, you pronounce the K!

    Brandon Sanderson

    ....according to Alan, who is the Old Tongue expert, who corrected me on it even though I named him.

    Terez

    So say it!

    Brandon Sanderson

    k'no-tie. But Alan can correct me, because Alan is the expert.

    Terez

    Does it have any mythological basis that you know of?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it does not that I know of, because that one, as most of the names—not all of them, but most of them that I named, because I named him—came from me writing something in English, and saying, "Alan, give me the Old Tongue."

    Terez

    Okay.

    Brandon Sanderson

    And so, there are times where he'll find something, and I'll be like, "Oh, that sounds like this! Let's use it. Oh, this sounds like this; let's use it." Most of the time, it's...he comes up with the direct translation.

    Terez

    Like, Shaisam, actually...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Terez

    Yeah, I mean that's easy to figure out for us, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. And there are some where I say, "Let's find something that feels like this..." and then, you know, of course, Perrin's hammer, right?

    Terez

    Yeah.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's one where you're like, you know, let's find an Old Tongue translation that works for what the mythological symbolism is.

    Terez

    And that works well. It's hard to pronounce though.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, it is a little hard to pronounce though.

    Terez

    Can you pronounce it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    MAH-HAHL-in-ear? Eh...ask Alan.

    Terez

    (laughs) Okay.

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  • 103

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Question

    The last book had a lot of military action in it. Did you have to do a lot of research for that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yes we did. And I relied a lot on some experts that we know to give me a lot of help on that.

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  • 104

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Question

    Did you have any Air Force consultation with the to'raken scenes at all?

    Brandon Sanderson

    That was in mind. We had a lot of military experts help us out with these books. I relied on them a lot.

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  • 105

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Question

    How is Mat's new name pronounced?

    Brandon Sanderson

    According to Alan Romanczuk, you do pronounce the "k".

    J. Dauro

    (As Harriet says, any way you say it is OK. Check the glossaries for some help.)

    Footnote

    Mat's new name is "Knotai".

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  • 106

    Interview: Oct 9th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    So there I was, sitting beside Robert Jordan's computer, looking at printouts of his notes, and feeling supremely overwhelmed. You might wonder what was in those notes. Well, in preparing to write this piece, I went to Harriet and (as I'd often promised fans) asked if it would be possible to release the notes, or to at least speak specifically about their contents. (I still someday want to do a series of blog posts where I take scenes from the notes, then compare them to scenes in the finished books, with a commentary on why I made the decisions to change them that I did.)

    In response to my question, Harriet pointed out that work on the encyclopedia of the Wheel of Time is still in progress. She and Team Jordan haven't yet finished deciding what tidbits from the notes they want to include in the encyclopedia, and she thinks now is not the time to release them. (Or even for me to talk about specifics.)

    Therefore, I can't talk about many specific scenes. Instead, then, I want to talk about the general process—which might be of more interest to many of you. You see, as I've explained before, the "notes" aren't what people assume. I was handed two hundred pages of material by Harriet, and this is what I read that first night. Those pages included:

    Written sections by Robert Jordan: Robert Jordan was a "discovery"-type writer, meaning he tended to explore where he wanted his story to go by doing the actual writing. He didn't work from an outline. Harriet has explained that he had a few goalposts he was aiming for, big events he knew would happen somewhere in the story. He didn't know exactly how those would play out until he wrote them, but he knew what they were. Otherwise, he would write and explore, working his way toward his goalposts and discovering many parts of his story as he worked.

    Robert Jordan was also not a linear writer. From what I can judge by the notes, he was one of the relatively more rare breed of writers who work on a scene as it interests them, no matter where it may be in the story. It seems like he'd often dig out a file and write a short time on it, then stick that file back into the notes. The next day, he'd work on a different place in the story. It's possible that as he started work on a book in earnest, however, he progressed in a more linear fashion. The largest chunk of actual writing he left behind was for the prologue of A Memory of Light, after all.

    However, from what Harriet has told me, he did not show his notes to people, nor did he show them early drafts. Even Harriet often wouldn't get to see early drafts—she says what he gave her was often draft twelve or thirteen.

    In the stack of notes I was given were all of the scenes he'd actually written for A Memory of Light. Together, these were about a hundred pages. I can't tell you everything that was in there, not yet. I can speak about the things I've said before, however. One thing in these notes was the ending. (This became the epilogue of A Memory of Light, though I did add a couple of scenes to it.) Another was his unfinished prologue. (I split this into three chunks to become the prologues for the three books, though I did add quite a few scenes to these prologues as well. Scenes he'd finished, mostly finished, or had a loose first draft of include: the farmer watching the clouds approach in The Gathering Storm, the scene with Rand seen through the eyes of a sul'dam from the prologue of The Gathering Storm, the scene with the Borderlanders on the top of the tower in Towers of Midnight, and the scene with Isam in the Blight at the start of A Memory of Light.)

    Also included in this stack of scenes were a smattering of fragments, including the scene where Egwene gets a special visitor in The Gathering Storm. (Dress colors are discussed.) The scene in Towers of Midnight where two people get engaged. (The one that ends with a character finding a pot in the river—which is a piece I added.) And the scene at the Field of Merrilor inside the tent where someone unexpected arrives. (Much of that sequence was outlined in rough form.) I've tried to be vague as to not give spoilers.

    Q&A sessions with Robert Jordan's assistants: Near the end, Mr. Jordan was too weak to work on the book directly—but he would do sessions with Maria, Alan, Harriet, or Wilson where he'd tell them about the book. They recorded some of these, and then transcribed them for me. Most of these focus on someone asking him, "What happens to so-and-so." He'd then talk about their place in the ending, and what happened to them after the last book. A lot of these focus on major plot structures. ("So tell me again what happens when Siuan sneaks into the White Tower to try to find Egwene.") Or, they focus on the climax of the final book. The bulk of this information gave me a general feeling for the ending itself, and a read on where people ended up after the books. A lot of the "How do they get from the end of Knife of Dreams to the climax of A Memory of Light?" wasn't discussed.

    Selections from Robert Jordan's notes: As I've mentioned before, Robert Jordan's larger notes files are huge and have a haphazard organization. These are different from the notes I was given—the two hundred-page stack. My stack included the pages that Team Jordan thought most important to the writing of the book. They did also give me a CD, however, with everything on it—thousands and thousands of pages of materials.

    Though you might be salivating over these, the bulk are not things many of you would find interesting. Each version of the glossaries is included, for example, so Mr. Jordan knew what they'd said about given characters in given books. (These are identical to the ones printed in the backs of the books.) There are notes for many of the books, things Mr. Jordan used while writing a given novel in the series, but much of this ended up in the books and would not offer any revelations to you. There is, however, a great deal of interesting worldbuilding, some of which ended up in the books—but there's also quite a bit here that will probably end up in the encyclopedia. There were also notes files on given characters, with the viewings/prophesies/etc. about them that needed to be fulfilled, along with notes on their attitude, things they needed to accomplish yet in the series, and sometimes background tidbits about their lives.

    Maria and Alan had spent months meticulously combing through the notes and pulling out anything they thought I might need. This was the last chunk of my two hundred pages of notes, though I was free to spend time combing through the larger grouping of files—and I did this quite a bit.

    To be continued.

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  • 107

    Interview: Oct 10th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    At this point, I sat down with Team Jordan. In case you don't know the members of this group it includes:

    Harriet: Robert Jordan's editor and widow. She discovered him as an aspiring writer in Charleston after moving there to raise her son from a previous marriage. (She didn't think NYC was the place to do it, and she had inherited the family home in Charleston.) She was encouraged by Robert Jordan's writing and started publishing his historical novels (she still worked for Tor, but telecommuted). Eventually they fell in love and were married. She edited all of the Wheel of Time books, as well as doing some other things. (For example, she is responsible for nearly all of the chapter titles in all of the books.)

    Maria: Maria was hired on somewhere around book seven, I believe. At first, her work seemed to be more clerical—but over time, she impressed Robert Jordan and Harriet, and moved into a more editorial position. She'd maintain continuity for him, as well as work on his copyedits. These days, she is also in charge of making certain things like the Wheel of Time graphic novels are following the storyline and descriptions in the right way.

    Alan: Alan came on later than Maria, but has still been there for years and years by this point. He helps with office work and is the resident timeline king. He also is a military history buff, and knows warfare quite well. He became my "Great Captain" for the last books. (Though he and I did butt heads quite a bit as I pushed for more drama and he pushed for more specific descriptions of tactics.)

    Wilson: I don't know if he'd agree he was part of Team Jordan or not, but I view him as part. Wilson is Robert Jordan's cousin and close friend growing up—the cousin that was like a brother. Jovial and welcoming, he recently dressed up in a costume of me for a costume contest. He's been a cheerleader for Jim's work for years, and every time I felt daunted by this project, it seems I'd get a little note of encouragement or help from Wilson.

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  • 108

    Interview: Oct 10th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    During this second Charleston visit, I sat down with Alan, Maria, and Harriet to outline my thoughts on where the last books should go. I asked for big sheets of butcher paper, and upon this I started writing down characters, plots, goals, and sequences as headings. Then, we brainstormed answers to holes. I often presented my (somewhat daring) plans for sequences Robert Jordan had not outlined. I think a lot of the things I suggested were surprising to Team Jordan—and made them worried.

    My argument was this, however: Robert Jordan would not have kept the last book stale. He wouldn't have done everything as expected. He wouldn't have flatlined the character arcs, he wouldn't have stopped the worldbuilding. If we played this book safe, we'd end up with a bland climax to the series. Harriet agreed, and told me to proceed with some of these plans—but with the warning that as editor, she would read and see if I pulled off the sequences. If I did, they'd go in the books. If I didn't, we'd remove them.

    This ended up working really well. It allowed me to exercise artistic freedom, driving the books in directions I felt they needed to go without limitations. Granted, I had a personal rule—I didn't contradict Robert Jordan's previous books, and if he had finished a scene in the notes, we were going to use it.

    This might make it sound like I was trying to steer the books away from his vision. Nothing is further from the truth. In rereading his series, in getting close to his notes, I felt like I had a vision for the types of emotional beats Robert Jordan was striving for in the last book. These emotional beats required surprises, revelations, and transformations—I felt like I truly had the pulse of this series. My goal was to fulfill his vision. However, in order to do this, I needed to exercise my artistic muscles, as he would have exercised his own. I had to allow the creative writer in me to create, to tell stories.

    It meant approaching these books as a writer, not a ghostwriter. Harriet understood this; she hired me rather than a ghostwriter because we had notes and fragments of scenes—not an almost-completed novel. However, she was also very right to tell me that she would act as a stabilizing force. Letting my creativity out of its proverbial Pandora's box meant walking a dangerous line, with things that were too "Brandon" potentially consuming the series. I didn't want to let this happen, and Harriet was the failsafe.

    This is why some sequences, like the "River of Souls" sequence that became part of the Unfettered anthology, needed to be deleted from the books. It's not the only one. Others include a sequence where Perrin went into the Ways.

    During the process of writing these books, all members of Team Jordan offered commentary on every aspect—but a certain specialization fell out naturally. Harriet did line edits and focused on character voice. (She famously told me, regarding one of my very early Aviendha scenes, "Brandon, you've written an almost perfect Elayne." It took me a few more tries to get that one right.) Maria would watch for continuity with other books. Alan would pin me down on timeline, troop movements, and tactics.

    To be continued.

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  • 109

    Interview: Oct 17th, 2013

    Brandon Sanderson

    The Gathering Storm: What did I learn?

    The obvious thing I learned has to do with juggling so many side plots. I'd attempted this level of complexity one time before in my life, the first draft of The Way of Kings. (Written in 2002–2003, this was very different from the version I published in 2010, which was rebuilt from the ground up and written from page one a second time.) The book had major problems, and I felt at the time they came from inexpert juggling of its multitude of viewpoints. I've since advised new writers that this is a potential trap—adding complexity by way of many viewpoints, when the book may not need it. Many great epics we love in the genre (The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire included) start with a small group of characters, many in the same location, before splitting into much larger experiences with expansive numbers of viewpoints.

    I couldn't afford to be bad at this any longer. Fortunately, finishing the Mistborn trilogy had taught me a lot about juggling viewpoints. Approaching The Wheel of Time, I was better able to divide viewpoints, arrange them in a novel, and keep them in narrative rhythm with one another—so they complemented one another, rather than distracting or confusing the reader.

    The other primary thing I feel I gained working on this book is a better understanding of my outlining process. Robert Jordan, as I said in previous installments, seems to have been more of a discovery writer than an outline writer—I'm the opposite. Working with The Gathering Storm forced me to take all of these notes and fragments of scenes and build a cohesive story from them. It worked surprisingly well. Somehow, my own process melded perfectly with the challenge of building a book from all of these parts. (That's not to say that the book itself was perfect—just that my process adapted very naturally to the challenge of outlining these novels.)

    There are a lot of little things. Harriet's careful line edits taught me to be more specific in my word choice. The invaluable contributions of Alan and Maria taught me the importance of having assistants to help with projects this large, and showed me how to make the best use of that help. (It was something I started out bad at doing—my first few requests of Alan and Maria were to collect things I never ended up needing, for example.) I gained a new awe for the passion of Wheel of Time fandom, and feel I grew to understand them—particularly the very enthusiastic fans—a little better. This, in turn, has informed my interactions with my own readers.

    I also learned that the way I do characters (which is the one part of the process I do more like a discovery writer) can betray me. As evidenced below.

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  • 110

    Interview: Apr 10th, 2014

    Devon Wolfman Starr

    What was your experience like working on specifically tactics of the biggest military engagement of the last novel?

    So this is another one of those places where it required a lot of push and pull between us. This is something that Robert Jordan had more talent for than I have. He was a military tactician and military historian, and I am not. I am an action movie buff, and a Chinese Kung Fu movie buff. And I love vibrant, engaging visual action sequences. And large scale battle tactics are something I usually go to other people to use as resource on. And so on this one, we made Alan Romanczuk our Great Captain who was going to define our tactics....(indecipherable)...There was a lot of conflict between he and myself—good-natured, but sometimes heated—because I kept pushing toward more cinematic and more character focused. And he kept pushing toward more realism and more focus on the tactics. And that was a lot of push and pull between us. We did go to some people starting out to ask for advice on what we should use as patterns for this. And we got some great advice there on which real historical battles would make great models for us to follow. We felt that was one of the things that we should do is rather than try to come up with this from scratch, we really should use something which happened in our world as a patten because that would help us from making any big blunders. And then Alan would say, "This is what the tactics would be here." And I'm like, "That's not dramatic enough. This is what needs to happen to make the story go." He'd be like, "That violates these rules of tactics." And I'm like, "All right. What can we do in between these two that is still dramatic and still tactically sound?" And we went back and forth a lot on that.

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