Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
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."
Logged In (0):
Newest Members:johnroserking, petermorris, johnadanbvv, AndrewHB, jofwu, Salemcat1, Dhakatimesnews, amazingz, Sasooner, Hasib123,
There were two plot related questions in the Q&A, both were RAFO'd: Did Aviendha's gateway in beginning of The Path of Daggers go back in time?
Oh, Rando, I'm really sorry about this, but Jordan overthrew your toh-toes argument.
Pratchett was talking about you having to take care in fantasy not to use words like 'sandwich', unless you had the sandwich guy appear in your story.
Jordan disagreed: the writer is simply translating... And their word for a bit of unidentifiable meat wrapped in between some...two slices of greasy bread would translate as 'sandwich.' But that's not what they call it at all, that's just what you call it in English.
Um, when I was much younger, before I met Harriet, I had two girlfriends simultaneously, who arranged my dating schedule between them, who was going to date me on which night. They chipped in together to buy me birthday presents and Christmas presents. You know, they just sort of shared me between them, you know. And they had been friends before, and I am not quite sure whether or not they made the decision they were both going to date me or not, on their own, before they first met me, it just came about. But I figured if I could manage two, surely Rand could manage three. Besides there are mythological reasons to have these three women involved with him.
As far as my view on this, with Harriet, I have many more than three women, there are so many facets to her personality she quite often makes me dizzy, I am quite satisfied there. About how she feels about this, I suspect you want her answer, I seem to remember her saying to me, you do remember this is fantasy right? And I think it was an accident she was holding a carving knife to my throat, just coincidence, but I am not sure.
Other information that we gleaned from dinner included learning that Aviendha is the favorite out of the three in Rand’s “harem.” Hopefully we’ll get to see more of Pevara being awesome, but that could possibly appear in a novella on Brandon’s web page that will fill in some missing holes. But no promises! And one last interesting fact, in order to get the Illianer and Taraboner accents right, he wrote the book then went back and did a search for all the characters of those nations and then worked on their crazy accents.
The last question…Mitchell asks, can we expect an epic Rand/Elayne/Aviendha/Min reunion?
I’m so glad you said reunion.
(Small group of people erupt in laughter)
RAFO. (You knew that was coming, eh?)
Though...it should be noted that prophecy says that Aviendha will have Rand's children...so, that's going to be kind of tough if they don't see one another again.
How 'bout those Yankees? [laughter]
Alright, well there are...I believe there are four. Is that right, Maria?
Yeah, four. Uh-huh.
Four. Alright, so what else do you want to know?
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?
They are running out of time.
And Aviendha's somewhere in the Waste, or on her way to the Waste.
Well now she is, but she was with Rand for quite a while, so...
[something about Min]
Yeah, but she didn't have her honor, remember?
I know, but that doesn't mean that she couldn't have hooked up, uh...you know, I don't know.
No, Aviendha [something]
[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...
[something about MTV?]
I'm just gonna say, read and find out.
*sigh* Well you know we will.
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.
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!"
It is a very oddly addicting series.
Writing Rand and Mat and Perrin and Egwene in particular was very natural to me. Aviendha was hard. I tried her early on in the process, which might have been a mistake because she thinks so differently. But I actually had to throw away two chapters of Aviendha that no one will ever see because she thinks like a Two Rivers folk, which is not the way Aviendha should think. I was disappointed in them, the first one I wrote. And anyway, I kept working on it till I got it right.
No. Nice try! That's eliminating one theory, I'll give you that one.
Was Aviendha in Tel'aran'rhiod or in a mirror/portal world when she met Nakomi?
Is Nakomi Jenn Aiel?
[laughs and grins] I should RAFO that shouldn't I?
I'd appreciate it if you didn't.
[laughs] I want Nakomi....We're gonna RAFO that for now. Nakomi needs...there's gotta be a few things I don't answer. I'm so bad, I answer everything Robert Jordan put an answer [for, to?] [bunch of people laugh]. Track me down another time, after A Memory of Light is out.
Brandon again spoke of Aviendha and the Aiel, due to the way they think, mentioning how he went through several drafts and back and forths with Harriet, whilst doing multiple re-reads of Aviendha’s POVs.
Then he spoke of Mat, saying that Mat is such a complicated character, though you might not think he is at first glance. He is an unreliable narrator, with vast differences between how he thinks and how he acts, and that Jim’s Mat POV’s are some of the best in the series. He then spoke of his own writing and that because of these elements it’s easy to miss things with Mat, and that that is why his early scenes in The Gathering Storm are not as good as his scenes in Towers of Midnight, where Brandon began to ‘get him’. Brandon finished by saying he’s best in A Memory of Light.
The scene depicts Min, Aviendha, and Elayne gathered on a battlefield around what is presumably a funeral pyre for Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn. What we recognize as a yin/yang appears in the clouds, possibly signifying a unity that has evaded male and female channelers for over 3000 years.
“Aviendha and Tuon are the ones I worked the hardest on, but I expected them to be hard. I wasn’t expecting Mat to be hard. That blindsided me.” Brandon explained that in general the Andoran characters are the easiest for him to write as, “They feel like friends from high school.” So it surprised Brandon when he sat down to write Mat and discovered that he didn’t have an immediate grasp on him. Brandon eventually realized it was because, unlike the other characters, “Mat is an untrustworthy narrator. He doesn’t always believe what he says and he doesn’t even always believe the thoughts in his own head. He’s a character I’ve struggled to write but I think I’ve gotten as close to him as it’s possible for me to get.” (The positive reaction to the Mat chapter he read certainly put weight to this statement.)
He also, tongue-in-cheek, admitted that before he wrote Cadsuane she was his least favorite character. “She was just too mean!”
Can you give any further detail on Min's viewing of Aviendha having Rand's babies? (Per the quotation: "Aviendha would have Rand's babies, too. Four of them at once! Something was odd about that, though. The babies would be healthy, but still something odd.")
They are natural quadruplets (no, Aviendha does not adopt Min's or Elayne's children in order to get four), and the "odd" thing is specifically their ability to channel from birth.
What makes you like Aviendha so much?
It's hard to explain. Always as a reader, I thought she was awesome. She didn't take any nonsense, and put Rand in his place when he needed it. I liked reading about her. Her viewpoint was different. When I read the Aiel, I thought they were weird, and then reading Aviendha, I saw they were just different. It was something Robert Jordan did very well.
Could you comment on the Aiel Wise woman that Aviendha met in Towers of Midnight?
I can give a comment, which is No Comment. That's one question that I am not answering because there are certain things in there that I don't think it's . . . I just don't want to answer that one, so I can't comment on that one. Sorry.
Chris Cottingham asked, Is Nakomi's dealing with the soup for Aviendha the same as Rand and the pipe?
What do you mean?
Is it the same power?
(Laughs) No, it is not. I'll go ahead and, wow, you actually managed to get a question out of me about Nakomi. No that is not the same.
(Brandon later said that he didn't know anything more than the fans do about the pipe.)
Is "Nakomi" from the Old Tongue, and is there a translation?
I'll go ahead and RAFO anything else dealing with Nakomi. You did get an answer out of me on one thing, so that's good.
Nakomi wandered in from the Song of Hiawatha.
There you go.
That's what we thought, yes.
I have a fondness for Aviendha, my personal favorite of the female leads in the Wheel of Time. (My favorite among the male leads is Perrin.) I wanted to see a return of Avi in the last books, as I felt we just hadn't had enough of her lately. I also have an interesting relationship with Nynaeve, a character who I (as a young man) resented. My opinion of her is the one that grew the most during the course of my reading as just a fan, and by Knife of Dreams I absolutely loved her. I knew that with all of the crowding in the last books, she actually wouldn't have a large part to play in the Last Battle. (Very few would be able to do so, beyond Rand/Egwene/Perrin/Mat.) Therefore, it was important to me to give her a solid and interesting sequence of scenes through both The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight. Her raising was not instructed by the notes, but was something I was insistent be in the books. (And along those lines, one thing Harriet insisted happen—and I was all too ready to oblige—was a meeting between Rand and his father.)
To be continued.
Towers of Midnight: What did I learn?
Set Your Sights High
I've never been one to dodge a challenge. However, after failing to do The Way of Kings right in 2002, I was timid about tackling complex narratives across many, many viewpoints. Towers of Midnight marked the largest-scale book I'd ever attempted, with the most complexity of viewpoints, the greatest number of distinct and different scenes to balance, and the most ambitious forms of storytelling. Aviendha's trip through the glass pillars was the most audacious thing I believe I pitched at Team Jordan, and was one of the things about which they were the most skeptical. Perrin's balance between action and inaction risked having him descend into passiveness.
I worked on the new version of The Way of Kings during this time, in 2009–10, when I was also working on Towers of Midnight. I doubt I will ever be more busy than I was in those two years, tackling two of the biggest books of my career at the same time. However, during this time I entered a place in my writing where something clicked, dealing with the next stage of my writing career. I'd always wanted to master the complex epic—my favorite stories of all time fit this mold. Before this, however, I'd done very few sequels—and Towers of Midnight was the most complicated sequel I'm ever likely to do.
I learned a great deal about myself during this period, and the results are on the pages of these two books, Towers of Midnight and The Way of Kings.
So, a lot of people are very curious about this conversation, rightfully so. They had many interesting things to say to one another. And I didn’t put that on-screen on purpose because I think that there are . . . Number one, I feel like it was the wrong place, narrative-wise, to have a break for something like that. And it’s also one of these things that I feel is going to work better in your mind than it might have worked on the page because there are so many places that conversation could have gone, that locking it down into to one of them would not have . . . I don’t think would have fully accomplished what we needed to accomplish there.
Beyond that, the conversation that they have would be directly tied to the sequel series, which is not going to be written. And, you know, I feel that if Robert Jordan were still with us and were going to write that sequel series, that scene would have appeared. He would have had them talk, because that would be important then for character motivation, or at least would have been referenced in the sequel trilogy. But since we’re not doing the sequel trilogy, doing that makes promises, also, that you’re not going to get fulfilled as a reader. And so, leaving that off-screen, I felt, was very much the right move.
That said, a lot of people make the assumption that Artur Hawkwing would be—and I’m not sure why they make this assumption, but I do get this from people—that he would be upset, that he would quote/unquote set her straight, or things like that. I think the conversation would have gone in a very different direction. In a, “You're doing a good job. There are certain things that I would suggest to you, but you need to conquer the work. That’s what your job would be. And here’s some advice on going about it.” Rather than a setting her straight, I think personally he would be proud of her. Granted, you know, now that he has all of his memories back, and he’s no longer under the dark influence that he was under during certain parts of his recent mortal existence, he will not be the exact same person he was back then. But he still is a conqueror, and that’s part of who his make-up is. And so, just keep that in mind as you imagine that scene however you want it to go. And I am still adamant about the fact that I think he would not like Aes Sedai even without the influence upon him. They are not his . . . yeah, he would not want to be involved with them.
This is a follow-up to that. We have a certain tall red-headed lady who goes through a magical object that shows what the future is. Does that future take into account the conversation that would have been had between the leader and her ancestor? Or is that something outside of the overall scheme of the world, and therefore would not have been taken into account in the future that was presented in that magical object?
So the future that was presented is—I think people are clear about the idea that this is a possible future. And that is not . . . You know, some of the things that we get as glimpses of the future in the Wheel of Time are set in stone, and some of them are not. And this is one that is not. And so that conversation could have been part of that, but could also not have been part of that.