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,
The possibility of a companion book with all the terms defined is fairly strong—once the series is done of course!
As far as prequels, that would depend entirely on my coming up with a story I'd like to tell that is set there. It's not enough to say, "I just want to write what came before this." I tell the history of this world in great detail already. I will add that we're putting together an illustrated guide which will include some things that are not in the books such as the story of Arthur Hawkwing's rise and fall.
I think the only other WoT-related comment I heard was that if RJ dies before this is done, we won't find out about this famous last scene since the hard drives of his computers will be reformatted six times and every scrap of paper in his house having anything to do with tWoT will be burned. He seems to feel quite strongly about this... On a related topic we may get an encyclopedia after the series ends, but no endless series publishing all of his notes, analogous to Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle Earth volumes.
As of right now, what are your plans for supplemental books? Could you give us your plans in regards to the upcoming short novels, a second Illustrated Guide, etc.? Do you have any plans on when you might release them in relation to the upcoming books?
The first short novel is to be an expansion, or rather, re-writing, of New Spring. I had to crop and compress in order to fit the story that I wanted to tell into the required space for a novella, but this time, I intend to simply do it without regard to length. That isn't to say that it will be the length of the books in The Wheel of Time. I expect it to be about sixty thousand words, give or take. The other two short novels will be centered around two other events before the main story that I've often been asked about. How did Tam al'Thor end up back in the Two Rivers with his wife and the child, Rand? And, how did Moiraine arrive in the Two Rivers just in the nick? The intention is to release them in between the larger books of The Wheel.
As for supplemental books, the only thing I intend at present is a sort of Encyclopedia Wotiana based on the list I have giving every created word, every name, place, term, etc. That, of course, won't come until the cycle is completed. There wouldn't be any point doing it earlier. I won't say that there will never be anything else, because never has a way of coming back to bite you on the ankle. I once said that I would never do a prequel, yet that's what these short novels are, prequels, but I don't have any other plans. At present, anyway. And if anybody has any suggestions, please keep them to yourself. I am trying to move on, folks.
At some point I will do the two prequel novels that I talked about, the two other prequel novels, besides New Spring. But, primarily I will give Harriet a small hand on a project she has signed a contract for; she's gonna do an encyclopedia of the Wheel of Time which will have all of the characters, all of the terms, all of the invented words, and roughly and a roughly eight hundred fifty to nine hundred vocabulary in the Old Tongue.
What I will be starting with is a trilogy called Infinity of Heaven, which will be a different universe, different world, different set of rules, different cultures. One culture that you meet eventually will be as close to being inside the Seanchan empire as you can come, but this culture is even more stratified both vertically and horizontally than the Seanchan empire, much more like ancient Japan truly was, or really like medieval Japan truly was.
It's funny I talked about a book I'm gonna call Shipwrecked, some of you may have heard of that. Shipwrecked is actually the second volume of the Infinity of Heaven trilogy, because I realized I needed more of the setup and as I did more of the setup I realized I had another novel here. It could not be the first part of the novel to do that, it had to be this was a novel in itself. So in these things I had thought ten or twelve years ago, would be a trilogy, has become two trilogies, but I intend to try and hold it to that very tightly.
Sunday began quietly with a book discussion group and the fan art panel. The art panel had low turn out due to being scheduled against Robert Jordan's final signing.
However, things picked up again when we hosted a Q&A session with Robert Jordan and his wife. If you don’t know already, Harriet is the editor of the series. She is probably the only person who knows as much about the series, including background details, as he does. They are also very much in love with each other, even after all the years of living and working together. They pick on each other constantly.
For Cloverleaf, my next set of books after The Wheel of Time will also be fantasy, entitled Infinity of Heaven. The writing style will remain the same, though I will keep trying, as I always have, to get better. There are no plans to publish a collection of my raw notes, but Harriet, with my incidental help, will be doing an Encyclopedia of WoT which will have a lot of stuff out of the notes.
For DomA, I can't be sure that the logical patterns you see in the election of Amyrlins are the same that I used in making the list, but there are logical patterns to them. If Harriet adds to the Encyclopedia who was a strong Amyrlin, who middling and who weak, you might see more patterns.
For Infested Templar, two women linking have slightly less of saidar available to them than the two women would have individually. But it can be used much, much more precisely, and therefore more effectively, than they could manage working merely as partners. The reduction also occurs for men entering a circle. One man in a circle means that only the amount of saidin that he can handle, less the reduction for being in a circle, is available. Men can be much stronger than women in the pure quantity of the Power that they can channel, but on a practical level, women are much more deft in their weaving and that means the strongest possible woman can do just about anything that the strongest possible man could, and to the same degree.
And finally, the Old Tongue is written in a script that has more letters than the English alphabet, some representing diphthongs. That script will be in the Encyclopedia that Harriet will do, along with 950 or so words of the Old Tongue derived from what is called Basic English, the 950 words necessary to carry on a understandable conversation. Some words I dropped as essentially unnecessary to the books—electricity, for example—while others—such as sword and names of birds and animals—I had to add. The total might come nearer 1000 words by now.
M.A.F.O—Maria and Find Out. What he did leave, he left a lot of stuff, there is discussion of these things in the notes. I need to look and see if there is an actual equation. He was very focused on strength of the Power and things like that. He has probably told you before, I think I’ve seen a copy of that on notes and things. He did leave scales on exactly how powerful each person is...
RAFO. Sorry, but we are doing an encyclopedia, and I have to reserve some things in case we want to put them in there.
I’m going to ask you a lot of questions about the Dark One and the Creator...
You are going to get a lot of RAFOs on this, because Robert Jordan often stayed away from, and in the notes I get the sense, the direction to stay away from questions that couldn’t be answered from someone in the world. Does that make sense? When he would like to answer the question, somebody knew that, even if they were dead, somebody in world knew the answer. When you would ask him questions nobody knows the answers to except the Dark One or the Creator themselves, he did not answer very often and that is why you don’t know very much.
Ok, that is absolutely fair, so you probably will RAFO, I would say, 90% of these...
Did the Creator or does the Creator use the One Power to create?
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.
Those two books will be Towers of Midnight (scheduled for November 2010) and A Memory of Light (November 2011). Rigney's single concluding volume has become three because there's just too much story to cram into one book; 750,000 words would be impossible to bind. "Even Jordan couldn't have written everything he left in one volume, although he thought he could," said McDougal in a Dragonmount blog. "But you recall that he thought he could write the entire Wheel in six volumes."
Although Sanderson produced The Gathering Storm quickly and efficiently, McDougal understands that the ending can't be rushed. She quotes from the Jack Nicholson movie Wolf: "If you push a deadline, you get a first draft," she says. "If Brandon needs the time, he needs the time. It's gotta be good."
Meanwhile she's under contract to develop a Wheel of Time encyclopedia, and Rigney is the focus of The Wit of the Staircase, a documentary by local filmmaker Hunter Wentworth, son of South Carolina poet laureate Marjory Wentworth. The series continues to gain new admirers, and there are ongoing rumors of TV and film adaptations.
I mean, you can tell us now.
Well, you’re phrasing these questions in such a way that...
I know, I know. I was trying to be...
You’re being nice. No, I appreciate that. I’m not complaining that you’re phrasing these in a way...um, I think that there is a decent chance that those could go in the encyclopedia.
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.
Also I wondered whether you will ever publish an encyclopedia of your interlocking worlds and their relationship to each other within their cosmos?
I plan to do something like this, as things progress. It won't happen until the future, however, and will likely happen only on-line. There will eventually be short stories showing some of what is going on behind the main stories of the novels. I do have some novels planned which would deal with all of this in a more direct way, but they are decades away from being written.
WOT question: Rereading the series right now to get ready for The Gathering Storm, currently on book 4. Has RJ included details in his notes about who made Callandor and who placed it in the Stone of Tear (and how)?
There were notes on Callandor, and the sword will play a part in the final three books. More, I cannot say. However, I'll make a note to suggest that Harriet consider this question when creating the Encyclopedia, so anything that doesn't end up in the last books is revealed there.
I might publish some of them. I have thought about publishing some sort of concordance, or single volume dictionary/encyclopedia, a very straightforward thing, not with any pretenses to be part of the Wheel of Time. From the beginning my editor has kept a list of words—created words—every plant that I mentioned, animal that I mentioned, every person’s name that was sitting in a town, or a village or an inn, every song. And it’s all there in that long, long list, and just the bare list right now I think is probably over a thousand pages. Which would present some difficulties, but the thing is I think I might take that list and give the basics, give definitions, put in definitions, put in references, who this person is, where this person’s seen.
Sort of like a massive glossary..?
In a way, yes. I don’t know, I think, perhaps, there might be some interest in that. I certainly wouldn’t do it until this is all over, because I, uhm, if and when I do it, I would like it to be complete, just nothing left out.
There is a large request from the fans that you do not let it to be edited, and that you publish them in their ‘raw diamond form’.
Oh, ah, okay.
Oh, you're spot on. Spot on.
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.
That is awesome.
And that will be part of the encyclopedia, actually.
That'll be great.
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]
Well, I think all will be revealed in the encyclopedia.
Aww, I can't wait that long!
Except what isn't revealed.
How far is the encyclopedia coming? People ask me about it occasionally, and I'm like, 'I dunno; they're working on it.'
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.
Oh, excellent. I remember Harriet saying that it was due one year after the final book, whenever the final book is out.
And we're working on it in between when we get time, when we're not doing podcasts and so forth. [laughter]
Oh, now you're making us feel guilty. [laughter] But not very.
Send me an email.
I can PM you on Reddit.
Alright, PM me on Reddit.... That's like, something I think that's more appropriate for the Encyclopedia, personally; but I'll see if I can make that work.
Myself and many others love the universe of the Wheel of Time. I know the possibility of future books has been discussed between yourself, Mr. Jordan's wife, and the publishers. And it's been said none of you wish to "cash-in" on Mr. Jordan's work.
I for one think you are all looking at this backwards, for you to continue writing books about the world and characters we've all come to know and love over the past two decades would do nothing but keep Mr. Jordan's legacy alive! It would not be "cashing-in" to make all his (and your) fans happy by providing them many more stories that we will all enjoy. I don't believe any of us want to just give up this universe after following it for this many years.
I for one do not want this story to end with A Memory of Light. I would love to be able to continue reading about all our friends for another 20 years. None of us want Mr. Jordan's world to simply end, he created a vast and wonderful world that is filled with endless stories. Please continue to write them!
If you truly believe it would be bad for Mr Jordan's memory or that it would appear you're writing more to make money off him then by all means donate the proceeds of any future books to a worthy charity.
Please don't deny us the future stories.
Signed, A dedicated fan
A thoughtful letter. Thank you for writing it.
Let me make a few points. The first is that Robert Jordan was very uncomfortable about people writing in his world. He said several times that if he died before the series was finished, he intended to have the notes destroyed and the series left undone. (He later changed his mind about this, or may have been mostly joking in the first place.)
The Guide to the Wheel of Time (known as the big white book) was originally going to have fiction in it written by other authors in the Wheel of Time world. Robert Jordan eventually decided he was uncomfortable with this idea, and they pulled the stories.
To be honest, there probably wouldn't be anything wrong with doing a few more books—the ones RJ said he was planning to write, like the two other prequels or the Outriggers. However, I worry that the further we go, the more we will invariably stray from RJ's original vision for the series. (Because we'll have less and less direction left by him.) Therefore, I will have to step in to fill the gaps, and the series will more and more become about me and less about him.
I don't want that to happen. I never want to reach a point, for example, where I've written more WoT books than RJ did. Is it not much better to quit while we're ahead? I'd rather be Bill Watterson than George Lucas. I'd rather stop on a high note and not drive the series into the ground.
Perhaps I will change my mind eventually. (Though, I should point out it's not even my call, but Harriet's.) However, the price of stopping now is leaving a few stories untold that might have been great to tell. The price of continuing on is to risk undermining the Wheel of Time's integrity and Robert Jordan's legacy. I don't know that I want to roll those dice.
If I could do one absolutely terribly immoral thing, and get away scott-free, it would be to steal the notes after A Memory of Light is done. I want to read them very badly.
It's not impossible that Harriet will let me post them once this is through. I've asked before, and she's undecided.
If it really matters either way, what I'm after is not super-spoilerific, but things that are either interesting but ultimately unimportant easter-eggs (the allusions to modern events at the beginning of The Eye of the World for example) and things like character notes and place notes (if those exist.) Above all else, I want to see what Jordan was thinking when he wrote the world.
I think these are completely reasonable questions that should either be answered in the Encyclopedia or (hopefully) when we're allowed to release the notes. I'll say what I can once the book is out.
Are the notes for the prequels quite extensive like for the final three you have written, or are they just general theme and plot?
The notes are not great for most of the outriggers or prequels. We'd be relying mostly on things Team Jordan remembers of what he said about them.
One conversation we've had is potentially doing these other stories as video games. That way, the fans can experience the stories—but if we flub them, they won't detract from the main sequence of books.
I was thinking about Moiraine's questions to the Aelfinn. We already know what one of them was, is there any hint as to the other two?
At the end of A Memory of Light, I assume you're going to leave some questions unanswered intentionally. Will any of these have canonical answers that simply aren't shared, or will you try to resolve all the open questions?
There are canonical answers that are not in the book. (Mr. Jordan sometimes said in the notes "Here is the answer to this, but it isn't resolved in the last book.") He didn't want everything answered because he wanted the world to live on in people's minds. All major plot elements are dealt with, but some smaller ones are left open.
So there's going to be a new acronym after RAFO? Like YNFO?
(Probably left this too late to expect a response but...)
Will you (or anyone) ever provide those answers? Whether it be by blog/new "world of RJ's WoT" or Q&A?
I will try to answer some questions once the book is out. I'd like to do some blog posts talking in-depth about the process, and about the notes. But it will depend on a lot of factors.
Even Maria's large reference book won't contain those secrets?
The reference book will contain some of the things not resolved in the book, and I've given clues about some others. Other things...well, he wanted them to go unanswered. So they will be. (And some we don't even know the answers to.)
Thanks Brandon! I am excitedly and sadly awaiting the final book. After so many years, it's going to be rough finishing it, and closing a chapter of my own life.
Any news on the Wheel of Time Encyclopedia?
Harriet was asked about this at our signing, and she said that it was well on its way. This is not simply an update of the Guide released way back when, but is a comprehensive encyclopedia. It will contain art, and it will include things from Robert Jordan's notes that didn't make it into the series. (Note that the Waygate Foundation, a charity organization, is running a charity drive tied to the Encyclopedia right now.)
Peter suggested we ask you: Is Rand's third question to the Aelfinn specifically known? Is it in the notes?
Yes, it is known and it is in the notes. It will be included in the encyclopedia.
Will the prequels be written?
The answer, directly quoted from Harriet, is, "This is it. Except for the Encyclopedia, this is it." There are not enough notes to write them, and Robert Jordan didn't want any sharecropping, once stating he would "run over his hard disks three times in a semi" before he'd let that happen (which makes Tom Doherty sad).
Robert Jordan left two sentences about the outriggers. Later, someone asked what the two sentences were. Harriet stated they contained spoilers, but they would be released at a later time, possibly six to seven months, possibly included in the Encyclopedia.
What do you like most and least working on the novels?
Liked Perrin, and misses writing some of the PoVs. Had to constantly research things to make certain it was accurate, but won't miss fulfilling everything that was foreshadowed...lots of the foreshadowing will be mentioned in the encyclopedia in a year and a half.
Will the encyclopedia include only facts, or also speculations?
Everything will be things already known, or else more notes on the characters. And a few other goodies, like the Aes Sedai power scale.
I wanted to tell y'all a little about Waygate Foundation. When you get your book, on the back flap there's a list of websites—Dragonmount, Theoryland, a few others—Waygate's a new one. Waygate is a non-profit that has started to bring together authors and fans of science fiction and fantasy to [?] charitable efforts. Harriet is on the board; Brandon is on the board; I'm on the board; Wilson Grooms is on the board; Jason is on the advisory council.
We're trying to put together a significant effort to raise money for good charities throughout the world, and right now Waygate is running a campaign; they're trying to raise ten thousand dollars to benefit Waygate and Worldbuilders, and if they raise ten thousand dollars, they will reveal a peek at the Encyclopedia, which will be forthcoming from us. I selected the material, and I tried to make it really good. [laughter]
Waygate is starting an Encyclopedia Question and Answer with me and Alan and herself, and they are collecting questions on their Facebook page starting...this evening! [laughter] So if you check out Waygate, you can find them there, and if you have any questions about the Encyclopedia, you can ask them there, and they will be picking and choosing, you know, the questions that are really good, or that the most people have, and we will do our best to answer them while we're working on the Encyclopedia, because that's already underway. Thanks. [applause]
The complete Karaethon Cycle will not be in there, because Jim didn't write the complete one out. Same for the Prophecies. I'm not sure about the maps...(looks at Harriet)
I do think you'll find that, as published, the strategic movements are really very clear.
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]
I think Maria and Harriet are planning to put these in the encyclopedia, but you are right on the third question.
What did Moiraine ask Aelfinn/Eelfinn?
Ooh, good question. And one I don't have the answer to that handy, but we can MAFO that and ask Maria.
Everything I know about Aelfinn/Eelfinn questions/wishes will be in the encyclopedia.
I'm going to MAFO this one, since I honestly can't remember. I did get an answer from Maria as I was writing the books, though.
I'm going to plead the encyclopedia on this one.
What does it feel like for you? I mean, this undertaking has been more than twenty years in the making, I guess. I mean the first one came out when? 1990?
What's next for you? How does it feel to sort of bring this—at least the initial creation phase of it—to a close?
Well, it's a tremendous mix of emotions. It's very satisfying to have been able to complete his great work for him, when he couldn’t do it himself. That's joyful, but it's also very sad. I love these characters. I mean, they've been my friends for, as you say, over twenty years. And now they're kind of set free. It is a retirement for me, except for the Encyclopedia of The Wheel of Time, which I am still working on with my colleagues. And that will be published when it gets done!
(laughs) I think Wheel of Time fans are patient.
Since there are more than 2000 named characters in the series, it's quite an undertaking. But that is less emotionally involving for me than the work on the series has been.
The Memory Keepers where also asked to try and gather a list of the characters we would like to know the fates of and he would pass it along to Maria/Hariet to try and get those answered in the encyclopedia. There is a thread on reddit for those who have accounts, but I am sure one can be started here as well.
Did the Dark One make the True Power available to Rand, or did he find it himself?
After staring at me for several seconds (long story) and taking a sip of water, he pulled out a RAFO card.
The notes? The notes are more words than have been published in the entire series.
Harriet, did you hear that I tried to make one file out of the notes? Did Maria tell you? Earlier this week, I actually said people ask this all the time, I'm going to have an exact word count for them. So I took every one of the notes, and I compiled them into one Word document. It got to 32,000 pages, and Microsoft Word said 'I can't count any further', and my computer crashed. Thirty-two thousand pages.
So the answer is no!
The whole series is ten thousand, okay? And this was thirty two thousands pages. It crashed my computer, Harriet, it was hilarious. It was at four million words plus counting, it was continuing to go, and then it couldn't go any further.
The one thing at the signing that surprised me at the time, but after consideration later did not surprise me at all, was that someone asked the question, "Who killed Asmodean?"
Really, after all this time?
But "The Bug" and his mom and I agreed later that the person who asked it was just being intentionally facetious.
We'll see what Free's take on it is soon. Harriet's immediate response was it is a lesson on how one should always read the Glossary.
Overall, it was a great experience. Brandon and Harriet were obviously quite comfortable with the fans and each other. And both were enthusiastic, articulate, and . . . funny!
By the way, I love the little pre-printed R.A.F.O. cards, although only one person's question earned a card last night.
Maybe insectoid or Freelancer's reports will remind me of something else.
I actually should probably do a few frequently asked questions as well. For those wondering, there is an encyclopedia in the works. (applause) This was something that Harriet's been working on for years, and (to Harriet) I'll just let you mention about it, if you would.
I started keeping a list of proper nouns with The Eye of the World. I didn't know what I was up against. (laughter) Because I began, just keeping the list, without any chapter references, with The Great Hunt I began adding chapter references, and every book since then has been combed through. The last book, we had an intern, and we said, "Yeah!" (laughter) "You can code the names, and please put in when they die, what chapter, if anybody dies."
So anyway, this thing has been in progress from the beginning, and it will take us a year to figure out exactly how to organize it, what to leave out, what to add in. As Brandon has said, there are 32? 38,000 pages of notes. The entire series is ten thousand pages, so there's a lot of stuff in the notes. Brandon tried to put it all into one document, and when it got to that far, his computer stopped counting, and then it crashed. (laughter) So there's a lot of material.
Yeah, it wasn't even funny. My poor little laptop's like, "What have you done to me?" (laughter) I thought, you know, because Harriet's often said, "Oh there's more notes than there are words in the entire series combined," and so I thought, "Oh, I'll find out exactly how many there are." No, I didn't find out how many there are; I just crashed my computer. But yeah, she has said that some of the things from the notes will end up in the encyclopedia, some tidbits and things that you don't already know, so that means I can still RAFO questions when you ask me. (laughter)
Oh, excellent question. I should have put this during the frequently asked ones at the beginning. Are there any more plans to do anything else with the Wheel of Time universe?
No, there are not. The encyclopedia was put under contract in my husband's lifetime. He did enter into a contract for a trilogy of novels that are not part of the series but set in the world. He left either one or two sentences about that trilogy, which is not enough for anyone to work with so that it would very much still be his. He also said that—in the trade, it's called sharecropping in somebody's universe—and he said if anybody tries to sharecrop in my universe, I'll take out the hard disk, and I'll rent a semi—or a big rig, you might say, since his name was Rigney—and I will drive it backwards and forwards over the hard drive three or four times to be sure that no one will be able to do it. He really didn't want it done. And since he made it clear in his last months and weeks that he really did want the series finished, you have the end of the series, but there won't be any more done in the Wheel of Time world. [applause]
Along those lines, though, I will mention—people ask a lot—the film rights are held by Universal Pictures, and they're working toward feature films, one film per book. We don't know how far along they are. They have a second draft of a screenplay, which I have not seen. They're on a second draft.
And I haven't either.
Yeah, and Harriet hasn't either. There is one other little tidbit—there's an anthology coming out called Unfettered. It's a charity anthology for a member of our community, in the science fiction and fantasy community, who had huge medical bills. And in order to help pay those off, we donated a deleted sequence from A Memory of Light. It's something that was written, but we decided for pacing reasons did not fit in the book. And so we donated that to Unfettered and so you can read that to see something behind the scenes. I will admit it's much more me than Robert Jordan, but it is something that we cut from A Memory of Light, just it didn't fit, pacing-wise, in the book.
Right around 6:15 pm, we received word that Brandon and Harriet had arrived, and were smuggled into a back conference room to get our books signed and questions answered. An interesting outcome from our questions was that Brandon asked us to get people to compile a list of characters whose outcome was left out of the final book for potential inclusion in the upcoming encyclopedia.
You can add to the discussion here:
Upon our return from the back room, we chose a winner of the costume contest we hosted, but since we only had one participant, the choice was pretty easy. He looked really good though.
Brandon and Harriet arrived upstairs and took a moment to admire everyone's handiwork... and promptly asked us to get it off of their table. They were thoroughly impressed, I'm sure.
Who was his favorite character to write and who does he see himself the most in?
Perrin was his favorite. Even though Perrin went through "a slump" in the series in order to build tension, Brandon always stayed "Team Perrin." Perrin was the most natural. Mat was tough and thus a cooler character to write. Brandon enjoyed writing Mat, especially in A Memory of Light. Mat challenged his skills more than anyone else. The saddest part for him with finishing the series is that he can't write Mat anymore.
Harriet added that there will not be any more WoT books (other than the encyclopedia). She said that Robert Jordan hated the idea of someone taking his material, although he did want the series finished. He stated he would run over his hard drive before allowing others to "sharecrop." Harriet stated that the two sentences about the outriggers that Robert Jordan left behind will be released in April or May. She said that with the encyclopedia there is "the work of at least a year."
Will the encyclopedia have illustrations?
Yes. Much more time will be given to the illustrator than with the earlier book (the Big White Book). He stated that the BWB illustrator is very talented but was rushed.
I managed to get in one question of my own: Do we know how many total letters Verin wrote, and did they all reach their intended destinations?
Brandon smiled, and of course said, "Well, I know, but you don't." :) I immediately rephrased to 'Will we know?', to which he responded that yes, all of the letters were delivered, and he believed that further details were forthcoming in the Encyclopedia.
Regarding planned future WoT outriggers.
An emphatic no. However, HM did say there will be an encyclopedia (the original contract was signed with a due date in 2008). HM expects that it will take most of 2013 to put together and then some additional time to have illustrated. At this point, HM thinks it will not be out until late 2014 at the earliest.
The Encyclopedia came up in the discussion as potentially publishing next year.
Harriet indicated that this "wouldn't be just another version of the Big White Book." It would be an encyclopedia in the truest sense of the word and would likely include some of Jordan's vast stores of notes. Once the manuscript is finished, it will go off to Tor and illustrating will begin. Unlike the rushed illustrations (to be kind) in the Big White Book, more time will be allowed for the illustrations. No illustrator name was given, so it wasn't clear if they had one under contract already, if they would have only one illustrator for the entire volume, or if multiple illustrators would be commissioned. Personally, I can see both sides, having one artist's vision for things in Randland versus the chance to see a lot of artists take on things in Randland.
Was Luc a Darkfriend when he went to the Blight?
I'm going to have to MAFO this one, because this is one that I can never remember, and I've had to ask Maria like three times—the whole Luc thing—because I had it spelled out for me several times, but since Jim did a lot of the Luc scenes, I didn't need to remember it, if that makes sense. So go ahead and ask Maria. She's...there's a lot of stuff on that in there—and hopefully that'll end up in the encyclopedia—but there's a lot of cool stuff on Luc and Isam in the notes. It's one of the areas that isn't as sparse. But I can't remember. I want to say no, that neither of them were, but I can't remember when it happened, you know...
Well, I mean...Isam was a baby, you know?
Yeah, uh-huh. Yeah, and so....
So...I mean obviously he wasn't a Darkfriend when he went to the Blight...
Right, but he grew up on the streets....
Right, he grew up under that influence, right?
Yeah, it's like he was...always...or was he? And when did they...when they...I want to say that Luc wasn't, but you'll have to ask Maria.
About—if you can estimate—how many Aiel were in the Town?
Oh, boy. I think there is an estimate in the notes.
Yes, so ask Maria, and if I say it, I will get it wrong because Jim has an estimate of how many Sightblinders were going to be in the Last Battle.
And that would include, you know, ones born there and ones captured, and...yeah.
There are 32,000 plus pages of notes/documentation from Robert Jordan. Will that ever see the light of day?
Some of it will appear in the Encyclopedia. Team Jordan figures another 10-12 months work to complete the initial work. Then probably a year for Tor to commission the illustrations and produce the book.
Thanks again to everyone who submitted questions for our Team Jordan Q&A during the A Memory of Light tour. We were excited to see the questions, and even more excited to share the answers!
This sneak peek into the future content of the Wheel of Time Encyclopedia is brought to you by Team Jordan in support of our "A Story Begins" campaign benefiting Patrick Rothfuss' Worldbuilders charity. To help us reach our goal and release a full page of the future encyclopedia, please consider contributing a donation using the "Support" form on the right!
Warning—a lot of these answers contain SPOILERS. Read at your own risk! Each answer has been supplied by Team Jordan, and was written by Maria Simons, continuity editor of the Wheel of Time. Maria and the Team have been very generous with their time, and will provide as many answers as they can.
No, The Wheel of Time universe will not become open source.
At a book signing the other day Brandon said that there would be no more books written, prequels, sequels etc. He said that the only extra book would be this updated encyclopedia. Will all the characters bios include what happened before and after the WOT series?
Some characters' bios will contain more information about a character’s history. For the most part, they will not contain what happened to them after the end of A Memory of Light. Robert Jordan is on record as having no intention of wrapping things up neatly for all characters. As a fan myself, I like this, because it means that in my own mind, the character that I loved can live on happily forever, and the characters that I hate can suffer woefully and die painful deaths.
In addition, Robert Jordan’s notes did not have information about what happened to each character before and after the series, and since we at Team Jordan don’t know his thoughts on these things, we are reluctant to just make things up. I would be happy to share my personal imaginings for the characters that I care about, but they are not canon.
So, at the end of The Eye of the World, the all caps voice? Will we ever find out who it was, or what they were looking for?
The all caps voice at the end of Eye of the World makes an appearance in A Memory of Light.
What about what wasn't there?
What about what wasn't there?
What do you mean, what wasn't there?
Maybe it'll be in the encyclopedia. I can still RAFO things, Harriet is working on an encyclopedia of The Wheel of Time, which is coming out maybe in two years or so.
So who's at the Charleston Q&A and signing right now? Anybody?
We could have an impromptu meetup at the rotunda if anybody else is around.
Well, what did you ask?
Second question, how did they feel now that it's done.
I thought that you were there personally. No?
I was. I was the second person up to ask a question at the panel at 3pm.
Oh, thought you meant second question for the people that were there.
Well then what did they say?
Collectively, that it was bittersweet. Brandon because he got to write the last three but it was over, Harriet that Robert's quest was completed. Probably a lot of the same things the readers were feeling, as we finally got the last book, but now there's no more books. Except the encyclopedia, which is around two years away.
The only other thing we asked him was about a certain lighting of a pipe.
He said that he has no idea what the ending with Rand lightning the pipe truly meant. That was completely RJ. I asked him, based on my own theory, that what Rand did was a by product of him being almost a convergence of the Pattern. Since he wove with all three powers and wove the whole of the Age lace that he was now able to bend the Pattern and essentially "weave reality." Which would be more far helpful than the One Power. It may also explain why he's burnt out and not going crazy because of, he has a far better substation.
Pops! Forgot to add! Brandon said he doesn't know for sure but, that is close to his own theory. And they ARE releasing the complete encyclopedia on the series. He estimates by sometime next year.
Are you planning on putting together a Cosmere bible at any point? I've fallen down the 17th shard/Coppermind wiki rabbit hole so many times it's not even funny, so I for one would love to have a book with all the bits and pieces laid out eventually.
Perhaps. But not for a while.
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.
Oh yeah, so you’d make sure.
We know there are spirit-like entities tied to the call of a musical instrument. And we also know the mechanism Robert Jordan created—a super AI-like system, if you will, to guide the outcome of the many variations of all worlds. Finally, we know this super AI can upgrade the status of spirit-like entities as it needs. Therefore, has the super AI tied any female spirit-like entities of individuals who died during the fifty years prior to the final military engagement of the final book to the call of this said musical instrument? [Much clapping.]
Arbitrary decision . . . you win!
Matt, you have to send that to me . . . [?]
So, as a subset of paragraph 3, subsection B on the R. A. F. O. Rules of Engagement, this is definitely a Class A Read and Find Out.
Does he get a card?
Yeah, I’ve got a . . . he’s got so many cards. Yeah, I cannot answer that.
[Question about what Matt asked]
As I interpreted it, he asked if any women have been tied to the Horn of Valere in the last fifty years. Any women who were not previously tied to it. And so, I can speak of only one person that has been tied to the Horn of Valere in the last fifty years. Male, yes.
Who is that?
That was Jain Farstrider.
You’re not allowed to talk about it?
I can’t talk about it. You can interpret that as . . . Now I did preface this all by saying, “Here are the things that I won’t talk about.” So, you can kind of assume that if I can’t talk about it it’s because I don’t know, or I’m holding it back because it might be in the encyclopedia, or things like this.
The Wheel of Time Encyclopedia is dead! Long live The Wheel of Time Companion as it will now officially be called.
The book will be 350,000 words long (comparable to several of the novels in the series; the longest, The Shadow Rising, is 389,000 words).
The book will feature a lot of new artwork, arranged by Irene Gallo at Tor.
Publication date likely to be November 2015.
The book will feature all of the already-published maps and also some new ones, including one of Thakan'dar.
The book will have a large vocabulary of the Old Tongue, with a minimum of 1,000 words.
The book will feature character profiles and sketches for almost every character in the series. Even Bela has her own entry.
The book will be written from a post-AMoL POV. It will have spoilers for the entire series.
Over the next month or two we plan on posting a few files from Robert Jordan's notes that, for one reason or another, will not be represented directly in the forthcoming The Wheel of Time Companion.
While some of these files won't be exciting to a lot of people [YMMV depending on personal interests], they offer good examples of the types of material RJ felt it was important to document. They have been edited in minor ways for consistency and ease of reading—for example, most of the entries in this post had codes designating where each expression appeared in the books, a carry over from the days pre-digitalization.