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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.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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I didn't read all of the conversations you had about it on Twitter and Facebook, and I didn't really have gender roles in mind so much as other things. I understand what you're saying about how his world requires certain gender imbalances—I addressed that sort of offhandedly in my post by saying that the 'in practice' roles in WoT are often not what you would theoretically expect considering the circumstances. And while RJ often made comparisons to various time periods in the real world in reference to technology in particular, I'm not talking about that—I'm talking about the theoretical result of the history of the WoT world. Many of the gender imbalances are logical, but many are not, which is why they don't feel realistic at all to many readers.
The main problem I had with your comments is that you said that anyone who accused RJ of sexism for whatever reason was 'blatantly wrong'. You sort of trivialize those things that we are 'left with' after cutting away the complex and subjective debate over gender roles, but those things we are left with are so pervasive in the novels that they give an overall impression of an old-fashioned and often casually sexist man behind the curtain. This is a big turn-off for some people, and while I feel that those who cannot overlook it are missing out on one of the greatest stories of all time, I understand that it is a legitimate complaint.
As for the female nudity...just no. :p I mean, I know you read all the interviews at one point. 'No Male Nudity' (NMN) was not quite as popular as RAFO, but it was definitely one of his favorite stock answers (especially in reference to movie questions—it was his 'one rule') for a good few years. He was pretty blatant about his preferences there, and while I'm sure he had several cultural influences in mind, in the end it's pretty clear that he just enjoyed writing about naked women more than he enjoyed writing about naked men.
I agree that it's wrong to judge RJ as a person anachronistically, but at the same time, I think it's wrong to make such a blanket statement about the veracity of our claims of sexism in WoT. It's there, and it's real. I agree that some people take the criticism too far without considering certain things—I've had these debates (on non-WoT forums especially) many times over the years—but it seems to me more constructive to criticize the exaggerations, or to criticize each argument on its own merits, than to denounce any and all claims of sexism in WoT in one fell swoop.
I had this scene from The Fires of Heaven in mind, and it sums up many tweets I made on the subject which were omitted:
Moiraine, seeming slight and small beside the others, also looked unruffled, although sweat rolled down her pale nudity and slicked her dark hair to her scalp, with a regal refusal to acknowledge that she had no clothes on. The Wise Ones were using slim, curved pieces of bronze, called staera, to scrape off sweat and the day's dirt.
Aviendha was squatting sweatily beside the big black kettle of hot, sooty rocks in the middle of the tent, carefully using a pair of tongs to move a last stone from a smaller kettle to the larger. That done, she sprinkled water onto the rocks from a gourd, adding to the steam. If she let the steam fall too far, she would be spoken to sharply at the very least. The next time the Wise Ones met in the sweat tent, it would be Egwene's turn to tend the rocks.
Egwene cautiously sat down cross-legged next to Bair—instead of layered rugs, there was only rocky ground, unpleasantly hot, lumpy and damp—and realized with a shock that Aviendha had been switched, and recently. When the Aiel woman gingerly took her own place, beside Egwene, she did so with a face as stony as the ground, but a face that could not hide her flinch.
To call these descriptions 'gratuitous' is, of course, only in comparison to RJ's (incredibly rare) treatments of male nudity (and not in comparison to, say, GRRM).
I was wrong about the film distinction, though I do believe there is an older report somewhere mentioning this that I am missing. However, there is a 'no male nudity' tag for all the times RJ mentioned it at signings; it was a running joke for him.
Re: Parallels between Rand's early arc and being gay...[from The Great Hunt]
"No, I can't. I mean . . . I didn't do it on purpose. It just happened. I don't want to—to channel the Power. I won't ever do it again. I swear it."
"You don't want to," the Amyrlin Seat said. "Well, that's wise of you. And foolish, too. Some can be taught to channel; most cannot. A few, though, have the seed in them at birth. Sooner or later, they wield the One Power whether they want to or not, as surely as roe makes fish. You will continue to channel, boy. You can't help it. And you had better learn to channel, learn to control it, or you will not live long enough to go mad. The One Power kills those who cannot control its flow."
"How am I supposed to learn?" he demanded. Moiraine and Verin just sat there, unruffled, watching him. Like spiders. "How? Moiraine claims she can't teach me anything, and I don't know how to learn, or what. I don't want to, anyway. I want to stop. Can't you understand that? To stop!"—Chapter 8, 'The Dragon Reborn'
That desperation is something I remember. Then this...
He paused, frowning, thinking things through. Finally, he said quietly, "Rand, can you channel?" Mat gave a strangled gasp. Rand let the banner drop; he hesitated only a moment before nodding wearily. "I did not ask for it. I don't want it. But. . . . But I do not think I know how to stop it."
Mat hesitated, looking sideways at Rand. "Look, I know you came along to help me, and I am grateful. I really am. But you just are not the same anymore. You understand that, don't you?" He waited as if he expected an answer. None came. Finally he vanished into the trees, back toward the camp.—Chapter 11, 'Glimmers of the Pattern'
Potent scenes. Especially Mat's last lines. *shrug*
@Terez27 Trying to figure out who the gay character was that @BrandSanderson put in Towers of Midnight. Was it Androl?
That is my best guess. I wonder if we scared him away from going through with that...'twas very controversial.
The place wasn't right in Towers of Midnight. Gay character is in A Memory of Light. It's really not a big deal; just a small mention.
I will say, at this point, that it is a character RJ mentioned was gay in the notes, so I noted it in the text.
[Links to following tweet from this conversation.]
I won't say if it's a new character or one I made a decision on, since there weren't notes either way.
I'm guessing that's a product of Twitter being a bad place for trying to say things clearly. The older tweet was confusing anyway.
Wow, that was indeed confusing. I don't even know what I was trying to say.
What I remember typing was "I won't tell you if it's something RJ had in notes or not."
So, I was lucky enough to get to go to the Memory of Light signing in Lexington at Joseph-Beth on January 11th.
When I was getting some books personalized, I told him how much I really liked the characterization of Androl and Perava.
He told me that Androl was a fun character for him to write, because it was his "own" Asha'man.
When he agreed to finish WoT, as he was looking over his notes, he asked if he could create an Asha'man to do with what he wanted. Thus, Androl.
He also talked about how Perava was his idea of how the Red Ajah would make their way in the world after the taint was gone from saidin.
Granted, they were relatively minor characters, but they had the best side story in the final three books, IMHO.
Is there a character you took in a different direction from what Jordan had intended?
In terms of a character, and what would happen to them ultimately, no, not really. However, there were times when some things had to be adjusted, specifically some plot points, in order to make the narrative as a whole flow better. Brandon did mention that he wanted a character that he felt was his own, which he got to do the most development on. That character became Androl. A lot of what Androl did were things which Jordan said had to happen. Brandon picked Androl to do them, and gave the character his own touch more than any other.
Not specifically against his wishes. If it was in the notes, talking about a character...one of our first requirements, and I put it on myself on this, was to avoid going in different a direction from Robert Jordan with anything, specifically because I didn't want these books to become about me. I wanted them to remain the Wheel of Time. Now, I had to be nudged by Harriet at several points early on. She would tell me, you have to change some of these things. You do have to be willing to write the book as it needs to be written; Robert Jordan wouldn't have stuck to this outline exactly, and if you did stick to it exactly, it would feel like it doesn't have any life to it.
And so, there are times, when I was working, and mostly these are plot things—I would say, "You know what, we need to change this." An example of this is in The Gathering Storm, there's a scene—it's not too bad; it's not a big spoiler [laughter]—but there are several scenes where Egwene is having dinner with the Amyrlin. Well, that was originally in Robert Jordan's notes as one scene, and I split it to two scenes, where there's a dinner, it breaks, and then we come back, and I put some things in between because with the narrative flow of that sequence, it felt more powerful for me to work with it that way. I didn't remove any of the things that Robert Jordan said to have happen, and used several of his scenes that he'd written to construct those, but in that case, I felt that moving it around like that made for a better book. And so that's the sort of thing I would change.
I will say that, early on, when I first met with them, I did say, "I would like to have a character that I can just kind of do whatever I want with," so that I have, you know...it was kind of, maybe hubristic of me or whatever—I wanted to do that, I'm like, "Can I have one to play with? I want an Asha'man to play with." And it was actually Maria who suggested Androl, and said "Go look at him; there's not a lot written about him. The personality, Robert Jordan doesn't have much written down for who he is, and he seems like he's well-poised to do this. That would be a very good one." So Androl, almost everything that's happening with him, Robert Jordan didn't say "Do it with him." There are things I have him doing that Robert Jordan said, in this notes, "This has to happen." But I specifically took Androl as a character and went places with him.
I tried to avoid talking about this much before because I don't want you to focus on what's Brandon and what's RJ, but now that it's all out, I do have a little more freedom. One thing is that early when I went to Charleston, I felt RJ was always adding characters, so I didn't want to add too many. I wanted to show something happening at the Black Tower, so Androl became my character that I took and expanded on from minor to main character. Androl himself and his relationship with Pevara was me. I felt the series needed it, and Iâ€™ve always wanted an Asha'man to play with, so to speak.
More generally, for The Gathering Storm I have said RJ worked a lot on Egwene's viewpoints. Not as much on Rand. Rand was more me, Egwene was more RJ. In Towers of Midnight, RJ worked a lot on Mat and not much on Perrin. So if it's Mat, it's more likely to be RJ. If it's Perrin, it's more likely to be me. In A Memory of Light he worked mostly on beginning and end, not much on the middle. Merrilor and the last few chapters are a lot of RJ. In between, it's a lot more me.
(Prefaced his answer by reminding everyone to avoid spoiler questions, and made it clear that this one did not cross that line) When I began to work on the books, I felt that with each book, it seemed that Robert Jordan usually took a side character and made them more of a main character. As I was outlining the series, I decided I wanted to take a side character and make them into more of a main character, but there wasn't a specific person in the notes designated to do that with. But I felt that we really needed somebody at the Black Tower, because of all the things going on at that time in the notes, and we needed another viewpoint there.
During my second trip to Charleston, this would be April/May of 2008, we used big sheets of butcher paper, outlining what was going on with these as a visual aid. I wanted an Asha'man to have a sequence of major viewpoints. Maria and Alan, who were Robert Jordan's assistants, and are now Harriet's assistants, chatted about it a moment and said you should use Androl, because there's not a lot about him, he's pretty much a blank slate and you can go wherever you want with him, which was really exciting for me. I then pitched the Talent of gateways for him, and they liked that.
Shortly after I got home, I got in the mail a printout or photocopies, of magazine or book pages from Harriet about leatherworking, and she had written on it, "I know that Jim had planned to use this in the book somewhere, is there anywhere that you can fit it in". Well I'm developing this character, let's make him a leatherworker. So I used that in building the personality of who this character was, and in that way, there was some of Robert Jordan in the character, even though I was taking a blank slate and going my own way with him. And that's where Androl came from for the last three books.
Brandon answered (paraphrasing) that distance would affect the strength of their communication.
We went out to the signing, and it was overwhelmingly crowded without being oppressive. The questions and answers were almost identical to those asked at other signings, as my fellow keepers have already reported on. No outriggers, WoT encyclopedia next year, and stories about the notes and the writing process.
The most interesting piece was on Androl, who was almost wholly Sanderson's creation. Jordan had many view points at the Tower, and Sanderson collapsed it into one, giving the soldier a power that Sanderson wished had been in WoT since his youth. Apparently, Jordan had a book of leather working he had intended to use somehow, and Sanderson gave that skill to his character in homage.
...and I got that first RAFO part, which was then answered in this book. And I was wondering if that question that I gave to Robert Jordan so many years ago, and he gave that wonderful answer, was the reason [?] or was it...[?]
(laughs) You're dog girl. Yes, you are! I will say...there's an inside joke here. Once, this wonderful young woman asked Robert Jordan what would happen if you balefired yourself through a gateway, and what exactly did he say?
He said, "Young woman, I need you to go have an affair—with man, woman, or German Shepherd; it doesn't matter. Either way, you need to get a life." (laughter, applause)
Now, I, uh...(laughter continues)
I also happened to then, several years later, marry a man who also read, and this is our daughter Aviendha.
I don't have one either, and I'm worried...my big question was always about gateways, and when I began reading the series, as soon as I discovered them, I started to think about what would happen, cause I'm a magic system guy, right? And I'm like, "Oooh, what could you do with this? What could you do with this?" In fact, I started taking notes on what I could do, and they sat there in my notes file for years and years because I eventually started moving away from things I had seen done by other authors, and that meant, specifically the few things I was most interested in in the Wheel of Time. I didn't end up ever writing a magic system using. gateways and the World of Dreams, the way Robert Jordan had it. I avoided these things intentionally. And yet I had all these notes of things that I would like to have done, if I ever did a magic system with them.
Lo and behold, I got that opportunity, and so I found ways to....when I got the project, I didn't want to come in and make any sweeping changes—that wasn't my goal—but there are some places where I felt it appropriate to add some of my touch to the books, and one was with the gateways. I didn't want to be spending a lot of time doing anything with the magic system, you know—inventing a lot of new weaves, or anything like that—but I did want to expand some parts.
And so I actually....I went to Charleston, and we needed a new viewpoint character, specifically someone in the Black Tower—we hadn't had...we didn't have the right viewpoint character for the Black Tower—so I said, is there an Asha'man you guys think that I could take over, so to speak, and really flesh out and make into a more...you know, elevate a side character to a medium level character, which is something Robert Jordan frequently did in the series, and they came to the decision that Androl was the person that I should take, and I gave him the gateway Talent because I wanted to explore what happens with gateways.
And so, right there....we are all on the same wavelength; it wasn't necessarily me trying to answer your question. It was me answering questions to myself as a young man reading the series, wondering a lot about gateways. And so, Androl was a lot of fun.
In fact, there's another story there. At one point, I'm working on the series, and I get in the mail this envelope—it's a manila envelope from Charleston, and in it are a bunch of photocopied pages, and Harriet has written on the front of them: "Jim planned to use this somewhere. Can you fit it in?" And what it was was a detailed explanation from the viewpoint of a leatherworker about how one goes about using leather, and leatherworking. And this is the sort of detail, craftsman-style sort of things that Robert Jordan really liked to find places for that sort of detail in the books, and meanwhile, I've been sitting here trying to build a character for Androl, and I'm like, "Okay! I've got a place for it." And that's how Androl became a leatherworker, is from that stack of pages from Robert Jordan; it was just a photocopy of a leatherworker talking about their work.
So, there's some Androl stories. And so the answer is, it's half to you, but it's mostly to me (laughter). It's to both of us.
Did he get to include anything from his "Cool Stuff" list in the series?
A few things did end up in the book, but he won’t expand due to spoilers. He did say that he had ideas about gateways long before he was selected to finish the series. He wanted to include some of these ideas in his own work but he was too worried about copying Robert Jordan, so they just stayed in his file. He was able to pull these ideas out and use them with Androl in A Memory of Light.
Which WoT character did BWS take the most liberties with?
Androl. BWS told the story of how he asked HM if there was a character for which the notes did not have a role for and if BWS could make his. HM was receptive to the idea. One of them (I cannot remember who) mentioned that RJ had in his notes material on leatherworking. HM had asked BWS if he could incorporate this into the books. BWS felt it would be perfect for Androl.
I'm not sure what I can say here that will be all that interesting. While I was working on the outline for the book (what eventually became the books) Harriet found something she'd forgotten about until then. It was a photocopied stack of sheets from what appeared to be a magazine about craftsmanship. In it, a leatherworker went into depth about what he did in his art. Harriet had written across it "Jim planned to use this somewhere." We didn't know where.
Previously, in visiting Team Jordan, I'd suggested that I would enjoy having an Asha'man character who had previously been a side character that I could make into a main character. I wasn't planning to add any other characters in significant roles, but I did want an Asha'man to add some viewpoints in the Black Tower. Beyond that, I wanted as a storyteller to have a character I could use that had very little baggage, one I could develop fresh. It's something you will often find me doing in my own books, something Jim himself did, in expanding a side character in later books of a series.
They'd suggested Androl, who was basically a blank slate in the notes. I took him and made him my gateway-Talented Asha'man, and the leatherworking sequence seemed to work very well with how I'd been developing him. And that's how the Androl of these later three books came to be.
Brandon also indicated that he felt selfish about asking if he could create a new character or work with a character which was mostly his own creation for the books. Harriet immediately shushed him for hinting that he was selfish for thinking such a thing, then Brandon continued to tell of the creation of Androl, which allowed him to play with the magic in ways he'd hoped (fannishly) to explore (i.e. Portals). Harriet also provided Brandon with a folder about how leathermaking works in Randland which was perfectly timed to provide Androl with more depth as a character.
Androl—is he yours?
He is mine. From the beginning, I asked Team Jordan if there was an Asha'man that had a blank slate that I could take over, because I wanted to have a viewpoint in the Black Tower, and I wanted to do some of these things with gateways.
We have Androl has a very interesting past, he has gone a lot of places and done a lot of things. There is one line in there where it says, where he prepares tea for Pevara, he is talking about things that remind him of things, and he says, "Spring water reminds me of Jain." Is that Farstrider?
Yes it is.
So now we know a little more about...
He's met everybody. He's gone everywhere.
Was anything new revealed during the Q&A?
He said Androl was strictly him, no sorta fan shout out. But as fans, we all sorta have those things we see as "should be" possible. And for Brandon, Androl was like playing Portal. That's why Androl came across as such a real character. Androl Is Brandon thrown into the world.
Androl and Pevara
In working on the Black Tower plot, one thing I realized early on was that I wanted a new viewpoint character to be involved. One reason was that we didn't have anyone to really show the lives of the everyday members of the Black Tower. It felt like a hole in the viewpoint mosaic for the series. In addition, each Wheel of Time book—almost without exception—has either introduced a new viewpoint character or added a great deal of depth to a character who had only seen minimal use before. As we were drawing near to the end of the series, I didn't want to expand this very far. However, I did want to add at least one character across the three books I was doing.
I went to Team Jordan with the suggestion that I could fulfill both of these purposes by using one of the rank-and-file members of the Black Tower, preferably someone who wasn't a full Asha'man and was something of a blank slate. They suggested Androl. The notes were silent regarding him, and while he had been around, he so far hadn't had the spotlight on him. He seemed the perfect character to dig into.
A few more things got spun into this sequence. One was my desire to expand the usage of gateways in the series. For years, as an aspiring writer, I imagined how I would use gateways if writing a book that included them. I went so far as to include in the Stormlight Archive a magic system built around a similar teleportation mechanic. Being able to work on the Wheel of Time was a thrill for many reasons, but one big one was that it let me play with one of my favorite magic systems and nudge it in a few new directions. I've said that I didn't want to make a large number of new weaves, but instead find ways to use established weaves in new ways. I also liked the idea of expanding on the system for people who have a specific talent in certain areas of the One Power.
Androl became my gateway expert. Another vital key in building him came from Harriet, who mailed me a long article about a leatherworker she found in Mr. Jordan's notes. She said, "He was planning to use this somewhere, but we don't know where."
One final piece for his storyline came during my rereads of the series, where I felt that at times the fandom had been too down on the Red Ajah. True, they had some serious problems with their leadership in the books, but their purpose was noble. I feel that many readers wanted to treat them as the Wheel of Time equivalent of Slytherin—the house of no-goods, with every member a various form of nasty. Robert Jordan himself worked to counteract this, adding a great deal of depth to the Ajah by introducing Pevara. She had long been one of my favorite side characters, and I wanted her to have a strong plot in the last books. Building a relationship between her and Androl felt very natural to me, as it not only allowed me to explore the bonding process, but also let me work a small romance into the last three books—another thing that was present in most Wheel of Time books. The ways I pushed the Androl/Pevara bond was also something of an exploration and experiment. Though this was suggested by the things Robert Jordan wrote, I did have some freedom in how to adapt it. I felt that paralleling the wolf bond made sense, with (of course) its own distinctions.
Finding a place to put the Pevara/Androl sequence into the books, however, proved difficult. Towers of Midnight was the book where we suffered the biggest time crunch. That was the novel where I'd plotted to put most of the Black Tower sequence, but in the end it didn't fit—partially because we just didn't have time for me to write it. So, while I did finish some chapters to put there, the soul of the sequence got pushed off to A Memory of Light, if I managed to find time for it.
I did find time—in part because of cutting the Perrin sequence. Losing those 17,000 words left an imbalance to the pacing of the final book. It needed a plot sequence with more specific tension to balance out the more sweeping sequences early in the book where characters plan, plot, and argue. I was able to expand Androl/Pevara to fit this hole, and to show a lot of things I really wanted to show in the books.
(laughs) So I had not played Portal at that point (laughter), which is actually very advantageous. I've told this story before, so I apologize if this is a repeat. Growing up reading the Wheel of Time and being a magic systems guy, certain aspects of the Wheel of Time magic system were very evocative to me. And I would list the two that were most interesting to me being the World of Dreams and portals themselves, gateways. These were two things that...you know when you... We've all done this, we've read these books. You put down the books and you keep dreaming, right? You keep thinking. And for me it was often what would I do if I were there, and devising aspects of the magic. I often inserted characters of my own into books I was reading as a kid, very frequently. I think I can trace back Hoid, one of my character's origins, to my always kind of saying, "Well there's a character behind the scenes who's doing all this."
And imagining what I would do with gateways...Actually, it's one of these things that I sat down and started devising a magic system based around for a book. And eventually I did all this work and decided I just can never write that book because it's too similar to Robert Jordan. As I've said many times, I wanted to be very conscious of staking my own claim in the fantasy genre in doing different things because I feel that one of the places that the genre went in the late 90s was very much trying to mimic and copy Robert Jordan, who did really awesome things and I felt had covered the area, right? And I said I don't like that this is where the genre is going. I want to be covering new ground, be doing new things.
And so reluctantly I kind of put aside some of those ideas, and then I got asked to work on the Wheel of Time. And I said, "Well, guess what I have in my little quiver back here, is a desire to really play with some of these magic systems." And so the meeting I did during my second visit to Charleston was in April or May of 2008, where we sat down. You guys remember that—we got out the butcher paper. I asked for butcher paper. We gotta see if we can dig those out. But I like sometimes to do visual outlining, and I took these big sheets of paper and wrote down character names and started making connections and building an outline. Wrote Team Jordan saying, "What if we did this? What if we did that?" It's where I threw out some of my weirdest ideas and I think terrified them, sometimes. Some things worked. Some things I threw out there, and there were like the whites you could see around their pupils. They're like, "What have we gotten ourselves into?" I'm like, "What if Perrin adopted the Way of the Leaf?" I remember Maria just flipping out about that. She's like, "Please, please don't do that!" [Looks at Maria:] Yeah, you remember that one, don't you? And throwing out all kinds of things because I feel that being brought on, one of the big dangers in working on the Wheel of Time books would be to play it too safe. Robert Jordan would have expanded the world, and the characters would have taken risks, and things like this. And one way we could fail is by not following his vision. But another way we could fail would be by creating bland books. And I think this is where a lot of media properties, like people who write on some big television movie—these books are really bland. Where they fail a lot is because they can't make any changes. They don't feel they can change the canon, they can't take chances, they can't push the stories In new directions, and the books often because of that will end up very bland. And I said we can't fall into that trap. We have to be willing to shake things up. We have to be willing to do things on the level of the things Robert Jordan did, where you know, look at Rand cleansing saidin and things like this. We have to be willing to do this.
(indecipherable)... One of the things I said I really want to do is, I said I want a character who has a Talent for gateways, because I love gateways and I want to play with them. And I also kind of want to add a new character—well, do a Robert Jordan and take a side character and make them more a main character for these last books because I feel he would have done that with somebody. It's what he does. And so, Androl was... I said, "Is there an Asha'man I can have?" And I think...was it Maria? It was either you or Alan said—I think it was you—who said, "What about Androl? We know almost nothing about him. How do you feel about him?" And I said, "That's perfect, exactly what I was looking for." And I took him. And so this is kind of a place where I was allowed to take some of what I like to do about fiction in the fantasy genre and play with it in a way that wouldn't dramatically change a main character, and which would allow me to push the magic system in some new and interesting directions without overwhelming and dominating it. One danger I felt for me was if I took the whole magic system and dealt with it, it would go too off the wall. But taking one little aspect and kind of doing what I love to do, and really explore the ramifications of what this would do to a world, was something that really excited me and I felt would allow me to have some fun, but not take over too much. And Androl filled that perfectly. I really am pleased with how he turned out. And all these things that I dreamed of as a kid: "Ooh, if I had gateways, here's what I'd do. Oh, I'd do this. I'd use them as a weapon. Ooh, bottom of the ocean—what do we do if we go to the bottom of the ocean?" You know, and things like this, and whatnot. And it was just a lot of fun.
So yes, that's what it was. And I give a lot of credit to Team Jordan for things like this. When I was doing this, I felt part of my job in these situations was to be the one pushing this toward that level of let's not play it safe. During this time, Maria and Alan kind of became the ones to say let's make sure we're not going too far. And that balance worked really well. They let me get away with on gateways a lot of stuff that I appreciate them letting me get away with. I know at some points, they were like, wow, I'm not sure if this is...yeah, this is a lot of gateways. I remember you [Maria] saying to me once, "This is a lot of gateways, Brandon." But I think in the end that push and pull between us ended up making the book very strong. And Androl became a really great character to add to the Wheel of Time canon, and so I'm very pleased with how that all turned out.