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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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Thank you very much for the copy of The Chronicles. I was not aware that I had fans who followed my work so closely. It is a real pleasure to discover. I apologize for the delay in writing, but in addition to writing (which takes no small amount of time), I have been on a round-the-world promotional trip and a close family member had to have open heart surgery, both of which occupied me fully. I do not have access to Prodigy, but please keep me on your mailing list through Tor.
By the way, the capture of Yurian Stonebow did not "bring and end to the Trolloc Wars" (Guide to WoT). Yurian Stonebow "rose from the ashes of the Trolloc Wars." That is, he came along after the wars ended.
Thank you very much for your letter. Receiving it was like getting a great pat on the back.
I have recently become aware of Internet, and have been a little dazed by the depth of interest Internet users display in my books. It's very flattering. However, I must correct the comment about Chapel Hill: I have never attended Chapel Hill in any way and I was not a geography major (sorry) .
Praise from a geographer for my world-building is praise indeed! Thanks for your kind words.
A note, since you apparently have access to Internet and maybe some of the others. Various people have told me that they have seen messages posted about The Wheel of Time purporting to be from me. I do not have access to Internet or any other bulletin board. I have never posted any messages, nor even listened in through someone else's connection.
Thank you for your letter. It is good to hear about your newsletter and the activity of my fans.
I think I need to address your question about the stories. You are right about stories set in my world or my landscape or my world's history plagiarizing my creation, and plagiarism is theft; a benign theft in the case of a fan publication, but just the same, an author's sole property rights to his creating lie in his copyright, and to infringe my copyright is to steal from me...Even if I were to set restrictions, any permission or approval from me would set a precedent that I cannot and will not set. You might agree not to use any of my characters, say, but another fan club might not be as correct as you have been regarding asking permission, yet take publication by your newsletter of stories in my world as an okay to do the same. Like Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, I might well find stories being published that do include my characters, and published to make a buck. Such would lead to all sorts of legal wrangles.
For that reason, I cannot give you such permission.
As to role playing, that is an entirely different matter. As long as there is no commercial consideration involved, feel free. With regard to sanctioning your club, I'm afraid I can't. I do not intend to sanction any fan club; there are a number of clubs, and I really can't favor one over another. I hope you understand.
I must say that I'm not surprised that most of your predictions didn't come out. I try to avoid doing what people expect. And I avoid answering questions, at least about what is happening in the books. If I answer some, people can begin to figure out some important things that I mean to hide simply by which I answer and which I don't. Whether you decide to go with publishing or illustration for a career—or both—good luck. Again, thanks for your letter.
Thanks for your letter of February 6.
I've had requests for info about starting clubs from three or four people, and have given them the address of The Chronicles. In addition, there was/is a club in Columbia S.C., but I've lost their address. In Scotland I was given a seventy-page printout of "facts deduced" about the books by a Jordan discussion group on Internet, which I am told has broken away from the main SF/Fantasy group. A fan wrote giving me the "address" of this group, but I would have to go through all the filed letters to find it; as I am not on any of the nets, I did not make a note of it. Otherwise, it's hearsay, that the clubs exist on the nets. If I find any addresses, I will send them on to you.
Hey, don't publish the picture Gerard gave you. Our house has no wrought-iron gates. Also, no renovation has been done here since the fix-up after Hurricane Hugo several years ago. I kid you not. Poor Gerard got the wrong house. I'm glad you don't intend to publish any address, whether or not it is mine. There are fans who write letters, and then there are fans who show up at the front door unannounced. I hate to be rude to people, but with the time I spend writing, I barely have time for a social life with my friends, and frankly, someone who has managed to track you down is going to think you have cheated them if you scribble your name in their book and say, "Now go away. I'm busy." Believe me.
Well, again, thanks for the letter, Carolyn. Do keep me abreast of what's happening with The Chronicles. I really would like to see copies, if it is possible for you to send them to me care of Tor Books.
Thanks for your letter of May 21, and for the copies of The Chronicles, which I enjoyed very much. Please keep them coming. Your take on the prophecies is interesting. Hmmmm.
Oh my dear, I do hope there will not be ten books all told. I'm planning for eight, at present, and hope very strongly that I can wrap it all up in that length. Enjoy your vacation!
I arrived about 50 minutes early, and immediately proceeded to complete my collection of hardcovers. Got the last copy of The Eye of the World and although it's not first edition, it's autographed; along with the other five! The Tor representatives were handing out book marks and postcards with the cover art from The Fires of Heaven depicted on them. In any case, by arriving 40 minutes early, I was number 16, and it took about an hour to get to me. I saw numbers in the high 60s, so I'm not sure if RJ was going to make an effort to get through everyone or not. He took the time to answer questions from each person, signed the books "For first_name, Best Wishes ... Robert Jordan" on the flip side of the page with edition information. He also signed maps and "The Wheel of Time" sampler, which SF&M was giving out.
I met up with the original FAQ creator (sorry, I didn't catch/remember your name, but I'm sure she's quite well known!) and I posed a couple of questions for her (she was in the high 50s and wasn't sure whether she'd get a chance). She was taking notes, so I'll let her post the "official" Q&A from tonight.
Jordan said he didn't really know, as he is constantly writing and cutting parts. He writes from the beginning of the story to the end, and then cuts and edits large chunks, pulling together threads. He doesn't even think about a working title, but lets the story determine it.
He says there will be at least three more books, maybe four.
Jordan knows the very last part of the final book, but doesn't know how long it will be till he'll put it in.
One humorous story mentions the quote saying he will continue writing until the day the nails are put into his coffin. One elderly lady apparently told him that she was a lot closer to that than he was so he had better hurry up.
Jordan knows about the internet groups, and even mentioned the recent split of the rawsfr-j from its parent group and said that is happening on a lot of other computer boards.
Jordan quoted the FAQ! Erica said the relevant part was from Novak, about Bela being a Darkfriend and attending the social. "The cloaked figure of indeterminate sex."
My dear fellow rasfwrjians, as (to the best of my knowledge) the only one of us to attend the signing at Science Fiction, Mysteries, and More on Thursday, I feel obliged to report what Jordan said there, and my impressions.
Robert Jordan was stockier, shorter, and better cushioned than I expected. He wore a wide brimmed hat and walked with a cane with a ram's horn like handle. Generally he was open and friendly. When he came in late he explained that it was because Princess Di was in New York to meet Bill Clinton to discuss Vince Foster's suicide. However he made repeated references to being worn out and overworked by Lord of Chaos.
David's wife took a picture of David, John, me, and RJ. I suppose he'll upload it sometime.
John, Scot May, me, and my minions went for pizza afterwards.
Mrs. Robert Jordan liked my T-shirt.
Pam "not dead yet" Korda
The signing at The Stars Our Destination was an overwhelming success by any measure you want to use.
We had about a hundred people show up (this was hard to determine, really since many people went through the line multiple times in order to get all of their books/maps/paraphernalia signed). We sold about 75 copies of Lord of Chaos during the day. Everyone who wanted a book signed was able to get it signed.
We found a couple of the maps in our basement, and the representative from Tor had about 15 that had been rattling around in her trunk, which we gave out as door prizes. We used 10-sided dice as random number generators, and your line number as your lottery ticket. It was a lot of fun and broke the tension of standing in line, not to mention equitably distributing the maps, of which there obviously were not enough to go around.
I was busy (obviously!), but did overhear a couple of things:
(later) I cannot find anything to clarify the question.
Went to Walmart at 7am but the clerks there were not on the ball, so I had to wait until I got to Barnes & Noble to buy Knife of Dreams, around 10am. I was the first one there, though I ended up second on line. They were strict with two books signed, hardcovers only, per trip through the line, with no personalizations. Also, no question and answer session :(
I did see TMH there (I'm not going to try to spell your name dude :p ) who was a few spots behind me in line. Didn't see anyone else from Theoryland to know it though. But if you were there I was wearing a Mets hat. And reading Knife of Dreams.
Got a few questions answered though from the list, after going through the line twice. It was an hour wait just about, and I had no more books to sign, so I left. I am going to another signing tonight and possibly one tomorrow though, and hopefully I can winnow out the question list after I complete Knife of Dreams. No RAFOs either.
Well, here's the Seattle signing report from the University of Washington bookstore. We had quite a lot of people (probably somewhere around 130-140, according to one of the UW reps there; he didn't think it was quite 150).
Jordan was quite friendly and accessible, even on the factory line of signatures. I met several other net.inhabitants, and told one guy (who hadn't heard about it) about rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan; he said he'd log on immediately he got home that night.
I got a number of questions answered, and heard the answers to many more. Herewith the digest. (There ARE some Lord of Chaos spoilers below.)
Last chance to back out!OK, the straight scoop. At least, as straight a scoop as could be gotten. Following "answer" text is my paraphrase of Jordan comments. (I didn't have a tape recorder, sob.)
Speaking of the Net, Jordan did say (as noted before) that he'd read the FAQ, and was both impressed and amused by it. We got a lot of stuff right, and a lot of stuff wrong. We also have based a lot of discussion on "facts" we deduced that were actually wrong.
He DID say that he had done some things in response to net.speculations. First, if we seemed to be getting too close to something he had intended to stay hidden for a while longer, he would tone it done in later books. And if we seemed to be going off on an incredible tangent (the "How could they think THAT?" sort of thing) he would correct it. In both cases, however, he only did this if it could be fitted unobtrusively into the book.
Naturally, he refused to provide specifics. I asked if the linking discussion on the Net had led to the glossary entry in Lord of Chaos (which discussed linking in some depth). He said no, the info about linking has been in his notes all along, but he had to cut it out of previous glossaries in order to save space.
About sixteen or seventeen people eventually showed up at the DFS, which lasted for a little more than an hour and a half and was quite vigorous. I believe that Ken Kofman is going to post a fuller report here. Let me only say that when Ken insisted that we take the Darkfriend Oath (from the Social in The Great Hunt), Esther Harlow was the only person with the courage (?) to stand up and actually repeat it. Her unregenerate father, on the other hand, at the point where Ken had read "The Great Lord of the Dark is my master, and most heartily do I serve him..." piped in with "That's not an oath, that's a recipe!" (with thanks to Damon Knight for the inspiration).
My wife reports that the signing at Tower Books in Concord this afternoon was well attended. Regrettably, both my spies in Sacramento are doing other things this evening... My wife took pictures at Concord, and when she gets them developed, I'll scan them in and post them, preferably at Ole' Miss (Viren? You listening?)
RJ also told someone that about 25% of what had been figured out on the net was correct, about 25% was on the right track, and the rest was wrong.
I had trouble hearing these figures, so maybe someone can correct me if I've made any small errors with them. I wonder how RJ would come up with such figures, anyway? No doubt most of the "looney theories" are wrong, but I have trouble believing that the FAQ (which we pretty much know RJ has read) is 50% wrong. Then again, the FAQ does give bunch of "reasons for" and "reasons against" for certain ideas—maybe that's what he means! Who knows?
I introduced myself as an internet user. I told him that some on the net seemed to think that every other person was a Darkfriend. He replied, "I've heard". I told him that my feeling was that the number of Darkfriends in Randland were probably between 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100,000.
The second signing session of the day was local, just a short drive up a rainy, traffic filled highway. This one had a Q&A session also, same restrictions on autographs though (two hardcovers, no personalization per trip in line). RJ seemed like he wanted to get going quickly for an early trip to the next stop tomorrow, so I only went through the line once.
In the Q&A, everyone was using the same questions that are answered in just about every Q&A RJ does, or at least recently: about writing female POVs, about compiling his notes, how does he store all the info about the plots and characters, etc... He did give some new info/answers on a couple of topics. He did repeat the tidbit about writing additional side stories that was on Wotmania today. He mentioned that he hates Apple computers because the early versions were not compatible with each other :p He mentioned if a mini series is done on NBC, there might be other sequel series on showtime or sci-fi channel.
Since you said at an earlier signing that the Dark One couldn't have brought back Asmodean if he wanted, was that at the time of Asmodean's death, or after that?
The Dark One couldn't bring back Asmodean because of the combination of two factors: HOW HE DIED and WHERE HE DIED. Not one or the other, both factors.
The referred to earlier question was asked at the NYC Barnes & Noble signing on the Crossroads of Twilight tour.
My wife, my mother, and I arrived at Flights of Fantasy in Santa Monica about 5 minutes after six last night (October 28). We were given numbers 23 and 24. Robert Jordan hadn't arrived so everyone just milled around inside the store which became quite warm. I was wearing my Bela '96 button (ftp://netcom.com/pub/morgno/wot/bela.gif), but nobody commented on it. I heard no indication that any other rasfwrj readers were present, but then, I didn't ask. Someone had two children there, but they seemed ordinary children, not wide eyed and clinging, and I had no reason to suspect that Moghedien was among the crowd.
About 6:20, they started lining us up, announced a three book limit and requested that we write our names down so he would know how to sign it. I would guess there were maybe fifteen people behind us before the line went out the door.
A brief moment later, he entered the back of the store wearing, as foreshadowed in the previous signing reports, the hat and carrying the Trolloc-horn cane. The hat and cane were more impressive than I had expected. His wife (I presume—no announcement or introductions were made) has a streak of white in her hair, so I immediately wondered if she were one of the Black Ajah, but she has far too much presence and charisma for that.
From reading reports from the other signings, I knew there wasn't much point in asking any substantive questions. Since the books usually do answer the questions eventually, there's no need to ask what's going to happen; in fact, such are really spoilers anyway. One young man was brandishing three printed pages of questions. The young man stationed himself off Jordan's left shoulder and sort of shouted out questions whenever there was a pause in the action. I don't expect he got much, but perhaps if the young man is one of us, he'll post his results here.
He is aware of us, and the Bela discussion. We had a rather long convoluted discussion about Bela and the Darkfriend social, which seemed to leave everyone else clueless, when I identified myself as a net.jordanite...
We complain about the Sweet covers. He complains about the German covers. (Well, not much. But one in particular had a naked woman wearing pearls holding back an army with a wave of her hand (The Great Hunt) and "I had no idea where they got that one.")
You don't want to hear about his British agent.
I asked if he had anything he wanted to pass on to the net as a whole, and he responded, "50% of the FAQ (pre-The Fires of Heaven) is wrong."
He wants a copy of the latest FAQ, which I presume can wait until we can incorporate the primary points from Lord of Chaos into it. PNH, can we send that through you or through some other medium?
He likes Mexican food and treats his driver well. ;)
Well, we met the Creator tonight. Very nice, etc etc etc. What everyone else said.
I did not have to say where I got the books. Whew.
Being in a New Place, Warder was worried about me, and suggested I hire a temp Warder to fill in. He said "like that Chad fellow". So I temporarily bonded Chad, who kept me safe throughout the signing. I severed his bond as soon as I got home. Being Aes Sedai of the Teal Ajah (half Blue, half Green), I am permitted to occasionally bond other Warders temporarily for safety's sake.
Mike—your book is signed. Chad did it, since he was getting just one book signed, and I was getting six signed. We had to write on a stickum what we wanted it addressed to—a book helper wrote it down on the stickum. I said, "To Sir" "Sir? Like, ... sir?" "Yes, sir... MPS Mike". She looked at me like I was a loon, but Chad rescued me and said, "You kinda had to be there". I think Jordan signed it no questions asked. I have it now, and if you'll just pay me $1453, I'll give it back to you . :)
I got there about 20 minutes early, perused their SF selections (got Briar Rose by Jane Yolen and Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede), bought The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt in hardback, and got in line. I also saw in line Chad, Corwin (Jim Folsom) and a lurker named Russ (friends with Bob Gibson).
I had a list of questions to ask, most from Erica, Twin of my Heart. I got up there and asked:
I think I then asked how long of time elapsed in Lord of Chaos. Chad—did I ask that? My brain is fried a bit I fear. I thought I asked it, but I can't recall the answer. Chad? Can you help me out?
Oh, I gave him the list of questions that I had made up—most were Erica's. I figured I did not need them, and he might get a kick out of them. I can post the list here, in case you all want to get a kick out of it. I won't do so now though because the questions came from Erica's personal email to me, and while I don't think she'll give two hoots if I post it, I wanna be sure. We all know how rude it is to post email without permission... but if she gives it, and if anyone wants to see the list (it really is funny) I'll post it. It was fun! Wanna add anything Chad? Or Jim or Russ?
Oh, I got him to sign the books to Judy, except for Lord of Chaos which he signed to "Judy Sedai, the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills—Robert Jordan". Cool, huh?
I was beginning to think you had joined the Navy or gotten married or something. It's good to hear from you again. I suppose I'll just jump right in.
1. I have never signed books in San Diego. San Francisco, yes. Los Angeles, yes. San Diego, no. At one time, I did hope for eight; now I don't think so. I certainly hope (Please, God!) it doesn't go to ten books, but I have stopped saying anything except that I will write until I reach the last scene of the last book, which scene has been in my head from the beginning. I will not write one word more in this world than I need to reach that scene.
2. Yes, I was on AOL. Sorry about not answering you sooner, but it takes a little time for Tor to forward letters, and by the time I got yours, I was preparing to go on tour, where I did indeed appear etc.
3. Who said I didn't like the Midwest? On tour I go where the publisher is willing to send me. This has in large part to do with which bookstores convince Tor that I should go to a certain city. For instance, I was in Cincinnati and Lexington, KY because Joseph-Beth Bookseller sent somebody to New York to make a presentation and convinced them that there would be enough people at the signings to make it worth the publisher's effort; the two stores were jammed. On this tour I appeared in Atlanta, New York, Boston (and suburbs), Chicago, Naperville IL, Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Seattle (and suburbs), San Francisco, Halfmoon Bay CA, Concord CA, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Cincinnati, Lexington KY, Washington DC, Springfield VA, and Toronto. I think I left out one or two; I don't have my itinerary with me. One problem is that more stores want me to appear than I have time to appear at. I was told that if all the requests had been honored this time, I would have been on tour for four and a half months; maybe this was hyperbole, but I don't have time to spend even half that away from the writing.
4. I heard about the hoax. Thanks for the printout of the posting. I suppose whoever posted it thought this book—The Westing Game—had some influence on some part of my writing. I'll have to try finding it; it would help, of course, if I knew whether it was fiction or non-fiction, and who the author is. Or maybe it's part of the hoax, too. The Eddings War? The Grin Thingy War? The Lanfear Trials? Elucidate further, my dear. Sorry to hear of so many falling by the wayside.
A note: Taim, whether you mispronounce it as TAME or pronounce it correctly as tah-EEM, doesn't rhyme with the others. Isn't anyone required to write poetry in school anymore? Of course, that dates me to the Dark Ages by most peoples' view, but I can still knock off a fairly good sonnet, Elizabethan or later.
6. I'll give 10,000 Maniacs a try, if I can find a CD or tape in my copious free time, and also Ms. Merchant solo. As for Scott, I'll bet he doesn't!
7. There are answers/replies or partial answers/replies to most of your questions in what is already published, through Lord of Chaos. For the rest.... You know the answer. All together, now...
Yes, my wife was the one who had heart surgery. Not a heart attack, though. She is perfectly recovered.
With best wishes,
The first thing I have to do is apologize on several grounds. First off because I meant to answer your letter the day after I received it, several weeks ago. Second, because of the sanctioning problem. Carolyn, when I refused to sanction your group, I did not intend to sanction any groups; it seemed to me that I would be playing favorites. Later, when the Robert Jordan-Wheel of Time Fan Club wrote me, I frankly forgot I had ever said that. I decided I would give them a non-exclusive sanction—clearly stated as non-exclusive—and I'm afraid by then I actually thought that is what I had done with you. To set matters aright, I hereby and herewith give your club, the Texas Darkfriends, a non-exclusive sanction from Robert Jordan. I am not saying that I won't do as much for other clubs—though not very many, certainly; there are the restrictions of the Fan Club Proliferation Treaty (PCPT, pronounced Pttttth!) to be observed, after all—but you are now officially an official Robert Jordan-sanctioned fan club. Or Wheel of Time fan club, anyway. Whichever it is you really see yourselves as.
I will get any addresses of fan clubs that I know of to you, but I often do not even know of their existence. I will hear something along the lines of, "There's a fan club somewhere in Los Angeles. No, I don't know where, exactly, and I can't remember the name, but they hold meetings." That is just an example, by the way; I have not heard of any fan club in LA. I haven't heard of this role-playing group either, so far as I can recall.
I am going to talk over with my agent the matter of letting fan clubs put promotional stuff in the back of my books. This is in no way a promise that anything will change, but who knows? I just have to look at all the aspects and talk with some people who know more about the matter than I do.
I haven't gotten the newsletter with the Texas minutes in it. I look forward to it. I must admit the way so many of you guys call yourselves Darkfriends (as in various "Darkfriend socials" I've heard tell of) makes me a tad nervous. Uh, you guys don't think I'm really—heh-heh—the Dark One in drag, do you? (Grin.) If you do, I'm going to start packing hairbrush, and I won't be using it to brush anybody's hair.
Herewith a sort of transcription of RJ's interview on the Sci-Fi channel. As you can see, very little that's new. For more interesting stuff, see Pam Korda's recent posting, heh-heh.
---Interview with Robert Jordan on the Sci-Fi Channel, evening, 23 April 1995. I = Interviewer, RJ = The Creator. Some minor stammers omitted.
Robert Jordan is one of the most popular story-tellers today. His multi-volume books The Wheel of Time have created a phenomenon with over two million copies in print. Not only is Jordan one of the most read and talked-about authors today but he is one of the hotter topics on the internet computer network.
What do fans tell you they like so much about your writing?
The women like the women. I was told by a number of women who came to a signing several years ago that they were surprised to find out that I was a man. They thought no man could write women like that. And I like this because my editor used to say that I couldn't write women at all. I find this a very sweet revenge.
Yes, there were a couple signings (well one, anyway) with 30 or 40 fans, and I am ashamed to say it was a blessing. I can remember when 30-40 fans made me grin with pleasure, but after signings with 200-300 people, each with 3 or 4 books, and a tight schedule to get to the next signing, 30 or 40 seemed like a rest.
New York decides where I go on tour, as I think I've told you. Sometimes they make odd choices; they once planned to send me to Phoenix so I could visit my brother, only he lives in Tucson, he couldn't dump the classes he teaches to come to Phoenix, and we had just seen each other on a fishing trip a few weeks before anyway. It is possible for fans to get places added. (Within reason, anyway; I was told if I had gone to all the stores that wanted me on the last tour, I'd have been out for six months!) Anyway, both Washington, D.C. and Toronto were added to the last tour because of fan complaints about being excluded. They made enough noise, apparently, that Tor decided I should go.
I think I got the December and February Chronicles. I think I did. My wife sometimes wonders how I can keep the plots straight when I can't remember which day to put out the garbage. I tell her it's an acquired skill, but I don't say which bit is the skill.
On our FAQ, he stated that 30-35% is fully correct, 30-35% is close, but not quite correct, and the rest is "way off in the left field". He though saw it more as a conclusive document than a synopsis of earlier discussions.
He also noted that some things we have rooted out he thought he had hidden immensely deep in the books, and we still managed to deduce the right "answers", while some things he saw as fully clear we had missed entirely or were totally clueless on.
Some of the "Read-and-find-out-answers" are partly due to that there are things that might happen, not decided yet, in future books. He also saw it as a way to diminish the reader's reading experience due to narrowing his view of the future works. And he was vastly amused by our looney theories, especially the Bela Darkfriend one. Unfortunately, I missed telling him of the Demandred being Olver theory.
When told about the Bela in Lord of Chaos plot contest he said that he knew what Bela had been doing in Lord of Chaos. WARNING! Non-family newsfroup material! Quote made without consent from the Great Lord of the Dark! "I wouldn't quite call it lesbian bestiality. Rather a very close mutual friendship with a certain female in Salidar." [I wonder who? :-)]
Well, it's not all that hard in my head because I grew up in Charleston, which one writer once said makes Byzantium look simple. But I couldn't do it in a computer. I don't have the time to invest in that much effort on the computer simply to keep track of it.
There are a lot of layers—everything is an onion. And we're talking almost a four-dimensional onion here. Any particular point that you look at—almost any particular point—has layers to it. It's one of the interesting things to me, is how much can I layer things without making it too complicated. It's quite possible for somebody to read these books as pure adventure, and I actually have twelve-year-old fans who do that. I was surprised to find that I had twelve-year-old fans, but I do and they read it just like that. Other people spend quite a lot of time discussing the layering, and it's fun for me to do.
No, because when I'm with the character I do get into his head, quite intimately. Or her head. In an aside, the biggest compliment I've had in a way was paid to me when I was autographing for the second book. At two different signings, I had a woman approach me and say that she had lost a bet, or an argument in one case, because I was a man. They'd been sure that 'Robert Jordan' was a pseudonym for a woman because the women characters they thought were so well written that no man could do that.
But I do get into their heads. It's one of the reasons the books are as large as they are. There are that many layers and I cover that much territory and still get intimate, if you will, with each of the characters. Or at least each of the characters who is being a main character, or a viewpoint character at least, in that particular book.
I've spoken to people in England and Australia who've read the book. I've had fan mail from Spain and Sweden. As a matter of fact, I've been invited to be the guest of honor at the Swedish national fantasy convention next year. With a very laudatory letter, I must say.
There's a very different view in the different countries. Everybody picks up different things. Somehow, and I don't know how, really—it's something I was trying for but I don't know how—I've managed to make resonances in each of these countries. But, it seems from the mail I've received that it's subtly different what resonances they pick up.
Well, more often they're trying to work out details of what I'm intending to do, and what I have meant by things that I've already written. I've been sent in some cases sheets of Frequently Asked Questions and the answers that have been deduced. The only thing is, they're right between 20 percent, and oh, 33 percent of the time. They're almost right maybe another 20 percent of the time, 25 percent. And the rest of the time, they've gotten off into an incredibly wild tangent that makes me wonder if I ought to re-read the books to figure out how they came up with this.
I do look at what they have said. And by that, I mean I look at it when somebody sends me a print-out. I'm not on the 'nets, normally. But sometimes people will send me a print-out of a couple of days of discussion, or a Frequently Asked Questions list, as I said. And I'll look at that, and it does give me some feedback.
There are things in the books that I have tried to bury very deeply. And if, from the discussion or from the questions, I can see that they're beginning to get close to something I want to keep buried, I know that I have to be more subtle from now on, that I haven't been subtle enough. Or, on the other hand, there are some times when I realize that they're spending a lot of time discussing something that I was certainly not trying to make obscure that I thought was perfectly obvious. Then it becomes plain to me that I've gone the opposite way. I didn't say enough about it for them to understand. So then I have to maybe reiterate a little bit.
But I certainly—I don't change the plots or anything like that. I'm certainly not going to alter the fates of major characters or anything of that sort, whether someone has figured out what that's going to be or not. I must say, they've not figured out very much of that accurately, but it's fun to see.
I was wondering if you accept fan mail...if so, how can I write to you?
Also, how many books long do you think this series will end up being? I have no objections to it being long.
I like receiving fan mail! Write care of TOR books, 175 Fifth Avenue, NY NY 10010. They forward fan mail to me at fairly regular intervals.
There will be a few more books, but not too many.
RJ read from the same chapter that he did at Balticon—except this time he read the entire chapter, rather than just the part where Mat gets jumped upon by Tylin.
He was remarkably patient with the amount of people there, and even remembered me from BaltiCon. I suspect it has something to do with him signing my books "To Hawk" than anything else.
There were about 30-40 of us there who attended the signing, but I don't know who (if any) regularly read the group. So, unless someone else can independently confirm my description of the replies, I guess it's really only on my word that this is standing on...
(I don't suppose Ryan came down from OSU for the signing, did he??)
Pam: I apologize for forgetting to send you the blurb about Asmodean; reformatting my mail for posting to the group jogged my memory about it...
Brief NY and Social Signing Report
Well, the book signing was mobbed. There were well over 150 seats and people were standing. It was strictly controlled with people going to have books signed one row at a time. This, of course, left little time for conversation.
I was seated next to three random people who happened to have lurked on the group. I also had a copy of the FAQ with me that two people recognized. So, perhaps the great lurker hordes do exist.
A little of this, a little of that. Some general stuff about the signing, self-indulgent personal impressions and Q/A. For those of you just interested in facts, RJ's answers are at the bottom.
NOTE: I've only read about half the book, so please use Spoiler Protection in any replies. Only one of my questions pertained particularly to new information in The Path of Daggers, and it may be a non-issue by the end of the book, so sorry if it's already been talked about.
As a member of the "great lurker hordes," per Aaron Bergman's NY Signing Report, I'm here to assert our existence. I kept trying to ferret out members of the 'froup by asking pointed questions like, "So... how did you find out about this signing?" and throwing out random bits of 'froupness such as information about the NY Signing. But no one one around us bit. I kept looking for Tony Z., Julie Kangas or Hohn Cho (sorry if I mangled the spelling), but either my memory's going and I didn't recognize them after 2-1/2 years (post-A Crown of Swords Darkfriends Social) or I didn't see them. The line went up the block to the corner, but I'd guess that it was a considerably smaller crowd than in NYC.
At any rate, after getting stuck at Sta. Monica Blvd. and the 405 Fwy and wishing desperately for a gateway we could drive through, we (my husband, Kevin, and I) arrived at Flights of Fantasy at 4:30 and there were a couple dozen people in line ahead of us. As it was my first Jordan signing and I was too manic to stand still, I ended up in the store spending money. As I signed my life away to the credit company for a copy of Legends, RJ arrived at the back of the store. I found it extremely gratifying to find out that even store owners get nervous about such things as RJ arriving at their back door while they're finishing up a sale.
Back outside, in line, the store personnel announced that RJ would be signing only WOT books, and no personalizations, please. Legends, for the purposes of the signing, was considered WOT. We were not, however, obliged to buy The Path of Daggers there, or to include it as one of the two books signed.
There seemed to be a number of people there who weren't actual fans, serving as ambulatory book holders for friends or family. So perhaps that made RJ a little more tolerant about answering questions from the people who are reading the books. But he seemed genuinely interested in talking about them, and was very warm and responsive.
Harriet was with him, and I was really pleased to meet her, as well. She's a lovely, elegant lady. But she sat up suddenly with a startled look several times during our chat, and the whole effect was somehow birdlike. I couldn't help but think of Verin in her "pay no attention to the little brown sister in the corner" mode.
The first is that the reason The Path of Daggers seems short is that Jordan could not go any farther without writing a whole lot more. The stage it seems, is once again set. Another interesting thing was Jordan asking Hawk if she was into leather, and if she was "top, bottom, or switch".
Dirty old man, indeed.
I'm hoping that Hawk will report on the wonderful time The Usual Gang of Lunatics had last Saturday in Palo Alto, CA and thereabouts, starting with RJ's signing at Future Fantasy bookstore. So, I'll leave that to her.
There's rather less to report about Sunday's signing at the Barnes and Noble barn (er, store) in San Jose: I foolishly hadn't checked for scheduling updates, and found out at 2pm that it'd been shifted to 3:30—but there were already about 100 people in line, zig-zagging around the store's rope barriers from the signing area in Children's Books. By 3:30, there were maybe 600, lined up out the front door and down the block.
As usual, there was a two-book limit, one of which needed to be Path of Daggers. No personal inscriptions this time, just signature, and paperbacks were allowed (both in contrast to the Saturday signing). Harriet (Jordan's wife & editor, and a very winning person) wandered off to other parts of the store.
I'd missed most of Jordan's comments during the signing at Future Fantasy: arrived late for early remarks, too long in line for others. This time, I parked myself strategically within earshot, so I could catch everything in my Palm Pilot.
Guess what? 600 people over a two-hour period, and hardly anyone asked Jordan questions! Arrgh.
Last night I went to the Seattle signing at the UW bookstore, and all in all it was ... anticlimactic. Admission was ticketed, and in order to get a ticket, you had to have a receipt from the bookstore for The Path of Daggers, Legends or The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. There were 350 tickets distributed, but more people showed up, and they waited in a first-come, first-served line. He would only sign two hardcover books per ticketholder from the WoT, Legends, or The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time.
Of approximately 400 people, I was the only person who tried to ask him plot-related questions, as far as I know. I stood around up near the front until my number (157) was almost up, and heard not a single interesting tidbit. He should really consider putting together a Signing FAQ: "Book 9 will be published shortly after I finish writing it." "There will be at least three more books in the series, and that's a minimum. I've known the last scene of the last book since I started writing, and the series will keep on going until I get there." He must have gotten really tired of giving those answers.
I only got to ask two of the five questions I had prepared, and I got one RAFO (sigh). Here they are (my answers are paraphrased, but accurate):
RJ was very personable and seemed to genuinely enjoy the interaction with the fans. I was disappointed, however, by how few questions there were—most people simply stood there silently while he signed. I was also surprised by how few people seemed to know about the newsgroup, the FAQ, and the Compleat Index.
There were a number of people there who were only partway through the series (although I guess we all are only partway through the series!) and many had not yet read the book.
—"I like the idea of Bela as a Darkfriend."
—"There is an alphanumeric code in the copyright page." He expects us to decode it shortly. Let's get cracking!
—"How do you know Mat isn't back as Cyndane?"
—"Any crazy rumors I can start on the Web are good."
I had my 1990 Tor hardback version of The Eye of the World signed, but I was chagrined to realise that other people were getting two or three books signed. Oh well.
Finally, I would like to say that RJ seemed like a very polite and patient man, who was generous with his time. We probably annoyed the hell out of him asking him questions after the talk, and even though half the answers were RAFO, he made an attempt to answer each sensible one.
Harriet sat next to him during the signing, and seemed to me to be a very polite and forthcoming person. I can believe she is the model for the better qualities in RJ's female characters, but I had no inkling of the darker ones, but it was clear that in many matters RJ defers to her and respects her judgement.
RJ and Harriet had just returned from New Zealand (RJ had been fishing) and their schedule seemed pretty hectic. Next stop for them was Lizard Island, and I assured Harriet that they would have the time of their lives there.
Apart from the drunk idiot sitting a couple of seats down from Joel and I during RJ's talk, everything went very well and I think everyone had a very good evening.
Did you expect the Wheel of Time to be as well received as it has been?
Good God, no! I’ve been told I have a healthy ego—a necessity for any writer—but I would have to be a stone cold egomaniac to have expected anything like what has happened.
Although this doesn't have anything to do with the ideas presented in this thread, I can't really justify starting a new thread for a simple comment...
I must say, that I was extremely disappointed with my meeting of RJ at a book signing in San Diego on the 8th.
I got there about 1 hour before he was to start signing books. When I went inside to purchase my book ahead of time, he was already in there, and was doing an interview for the local news station. I met a few people there, and waited for 4:00pm to roll around. We all got in line (We were assigned numbers in the order we purchased the book—I was #24.), and waited for our turn to see the man.
Turns out that he was not taking any questions during the signing. He was also not personalizing any of the books—so "he could get out of there quicker". (As I was told by a staff member at the book store.) I was disappointed by this, as I had heard that he usually takes a few questions during the book signings, and I had heard that he was a genuinely nice guy. When I got up there, I said "Good Afternoon.", and held my hand out to shake his hand. He ignored my hand, and asked for my books. He signed them, and that was it. Not a single word from him at all.
I was miffed, to say the least, so I left right after that. He might have done something for the fans after all of the books were signed, but by everyone at the store's, and his, attitude, I doubt it. Maybe he had an appointment to go somewhere, or his flight was scheduled soon after the book signings. But regardless, I was extremely put off by his, and the store's, attitudes about this signing.
I'd like to put some of the blame on the store, but I was there when Terry Goodkind's last book came out for his signing—Mr. Goodkind was extremely nice and talkative, and he took about 5-10 minutes with each person in line. (I was 5th in line that night, and it took me 45 minutes to get to him!) Not that I was complaining, though... Therefore, I can't say that RJ's signing was caused by the store pushing him out of there; the choice must have been all on RJ's part, and that ticks me off. Especially since he's my favorite author. I'm not going to stop reading or anything, I just wanted to throw this out there, and get it off my chest.
Anyone out there have any experiences similar to this? Or did I just happen to see him for my first time on a "bad day"?
I was fortunate enough to attend the Robert Jordan book signing at the Barnes and Noble in San Jose near where I live in California, and I figured everyone might be interested to hear what it was like.
RJ was scheduled to appear at 7pm, so, my (much more dedicated friend who drove seven hours from LA) went down to get in line around 3pm. Shortly after he arrived, he called to warn me, "The guy next to me says that last year, the line wrapped around the building!" So, I took the afternoon off work and headed down to ye olde book store.
I got there around 4, and about seven people were in line. Surprisingly, only three of us had read Winter's Heart, so we went off into the onsite coffee shop, and had a few hours of hard core Jordan discussion. We went back and forth on a lot of the issues in Winter's Heart: Demandred (we really wanted to be convinced that the evidence was inconclusive—IMHO, RJ is a huge, deceptive tease otherwise), the possibilities for Slayer as Asmodean's killer (Sure, he really looks like it now—but did we really have enough evidence to guess it was him pre-Lord of Chaos?), whether Sammael is alive, whether he's directing the slayer, if Moridin was just sending the Forsaken off to "pay the butcher's bill" rather than actually stopping Rand, if Olver was Gaidal (this never dies!), and if a Well explained Verin's delving in the stedding.
Naturally, all this rampant Jordanism led into what questions we would ask Jordan. I had brought a notebook, and wrote down a few of my favorites:
—How many more of your books will feature nude women slapping each other? Is there any possibility they will be illustrated?
—Is it now crystal clear who Asmodean's killer is? [I know what poor luck Asmodean questions have—but I figured a quasi-indirect one might get by.]
—What can you tell us specifically about the compulsion used by Aes Sedai in the Warder bond? What effect, if any, does channeling have on preventing this? Is it sufficient to just be holding saidar/saidin to avoid this effect?
—Is Machin Shin a result of the Dark One's taint on saidin being used in the creation of the Ways, or a result of some portion of the corruption of Shadar Logoth creeping into the Ways via the Waygate there? Or is it something completely orthogonal to both these powers, merely being a parasite that showed up once the place began to grow dim?
—Were The Path of Daggers and Winter's Heart originally meant to be one book? Why was the book jacket changed?
—What does the title Dragon mean, historically speaking? Was there some deeper significance to Lews Therin Telamon being named that, or was it because dragons have always been historically badasses?
—What happens to an Aes Sedai's Warder bond if she enters a stedding? Can she still detect it? What if I tie off a weave, and enter a stedding? If the weave vanishes, will it reappear when I leave? If it won't reappear, why can't shielded/tied channelers such as Asmodean or Liandrin simply enter a stedding to have their shield dissolved?
So, naturally, my friend and I didn't have time to ask all these questions, but it was quite an event.
RJ rolled in at almost exactly 7, and by that time, the line really did stretch all throughout the store and outside! RJ nuts of all shapes, sizes, and varying degrees of hotness were there, and we were having a good time jeering at the girl in front of us who thought that whoever helped out Rand in Shadar Logoth was a GOOD guy.
Then, they brought Jordan out, and we all started hopping up and down excitedly. (Well, not ALL of us...but the ones that are worth speaking of. Heh.) Jordan looks a bit like someone's grandfather, except witty, and if your grandfather happened to be a retired badass. He had his cane, ring, and glasses, and a charming, witty style of speaking. This may just be fandom talking, but he seemed like someone you'd genuinely want to spend an idle evening with, shooting the breeze.
So, being near the beginning of the line, we only had to wait while some fetching young female types had their picture made with RJ (Mmm...lechery).
Originally I was going to skip this signing since I (A) didn't finish the book until Monday and (B) have been to so many of these before but Batya wouldn't stop bothering me until I agreed to go.
While I was one of those near the back of the line (though not quite out the door), I had a surprising amount of fun. At the store I managed to bump into someone I know, have some fun debates with the people in line around me, was introduced to a Discovery Zone book about Dungeons and Torture for kids, discover that RJ still remembers who I am, and was able to hang around and listen to RJ speak. Since only one of us in my group had finished Winter's Heart, there were very few questions asked about that book.
What is the best thing about being Robert Jordan and the worst?
The best thing is that I get to put my daydreams down on paper and make a living from it! I’m not sure there is a downside. I suppose that people always want to know when the next book will be coming out—even when they are getting me to sign the latest book, which they have just purchased and haven’t even begun yet.
He went on about other things but all in all, he was a nice guy who was down to earth. Actually made a joke about Anne Rice too. The owner of the book store thanked him and then thanked those that had come to the signing. Jordan said: "Well I usually don't get the type that want the books signed in their own blood. Or even come to the signing in a coffin... wait, that was Anne Rice herself."
His wife was seen wandering around the store but never came to the table.
I came to Leiden and met up with a (new) friend of mine. (Wolf Gaidin) We came like three hours in advance, because I expected about 500 people. I heard about US signings and there could be 500 people there. I was worried about being at the back of the line and I didn't want that. Of course when we arrived no one was there yet. In the end the people from the bookstore said that they would reserve some seats for us. So we went to have dinner.
When we came back, there were some more people at the bookstore. I was a bit shy and was really nervous, so I didn't say anything. One of those people is now a really good friend of mine (Aan'allein). He had a tape recorder with him and transcribed everything. I will use his report, because my report wasn't worth much.
Anyway, we ended up sitting right in front of RJ. He was interviewed from someone from the bookstore.
This report was written by Aan'allein. I have edited some comments out.
I am putting my own comments in between, so you will have some idea how I felt during it :-)
He also mentioned some things about the variation in his readers. This group of Hell's Angels a couple of years ago who came to him when there was some question about his health, telling him that they'd desecrate his grave if he died before finishing the story.
Around the same time something was asked about him knowing the final scene (or maybe that was even earlier), because Rowling [the Harry Potter author; at least, I think it was her that was mentioned here] had already written the final sentence of her work. Jordan came with the usual story about him knowing the scene since before starting the series. He doesn't have it written down anywhere. Harriet already knows the final scene, she's very good at getting things out of him (at least, that's what I think I recall), but no one else... And then later he said absolutely nobody knew it besides him.
At last! Having just recently finished Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan agreed to answer questions from Dragonmount and wotmania.com. Both sites collected well over 1,000 questions before narrowing them down to what you see here. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions. We're very sorry that many of the good ones submitted never made it in. There's always next time!
We are very proud that this is an interview without a single "Read On And Find Out" answer.
We also interviewed Harriet McDougal, Robert Jordan's wife & Editor. Be sure to check out that interview as well.
YES!! *almost bounces through the roof*
(I had a bet with the other Amyrlin of the Offical Nynaeve Fanclub and of course I won.)
I don't really remember anymore what I asked RJ, but I do remember that Liandra and I asked if Robert Jordan and Harriet wanted to join the Nynaeve fanclub. They did want to join it. :-) Now it's called the Official Nynaeve Fanclub.
We also talked about my age again and I told RJ I would bring my passport Saturday, because I couldn't make it to the Friday signings. :-)
Pratchett also told about the bad plane flight he'd had, in an airplane full of football fans. And how fantasy was considered less in the UK, because people wouldn't be enthusiastic about anything, except for football.
And that through careful purchasing you could wake up in a Manchester United bed, wear Manchester United pyjamas, and have a Manchester United alarm, and that this was perfectly acceptable, but that if you replaced Manchester United by Star Trek you'd suddenly be a freak.
Science fiction and fantasy fans are better than football fans because Star Trek fans don't get in huge fights with each other.
You've got an especially enthusiastic readership. How do you deal with people who take your books too seriously?
Depends on what they're writing to me about. I explain that no, there really isn't a One Power, there is no ability to channel, and I cannot teach you these things because they don't exist. And I'm not a guru, I'm not a spiritual leader, do not quit your job. I will not allow you to sit at my feet. Go on with your life. But I don't read a lot of fan comments. I don't go on the Web. I don't pay any attention to it.
This report is written by Aan'allein.
Today Jordan would start with a signing session, having a public interview and audience questions in the afternoon. (Just the opposite of Terry Pratchett's schedule, so that they'd always manage to keep the number of people seeing the other small enough to actually fit in the rooms.)
At 10:00 I went up, seeing only one other person standing in line. In fact, when the doors opened half an hour later, there were still less than 50 people there, as opposed to the 150-200 people of the day before. Early mornings are good.
I liked how everything went today. I liked it very much. I actually got to talk an unbelievable amount of time with Jordan...
Let's see, seeing how many people there were I'd already decided to just keep on going back to the end of the line each time, having yet another thing signed. The first time I came to Jordan (as the third person in line, KuraFire had managed to sneak past me earlier... ), the conversation went something like this:
... and on. I don't know, maybe Jordan secretly thinks I'm a horrible person and would like nothing better than to scream at me to get away, but if he does, he manages to hide it very well...I like the guy. He's got a great sense of humor and can talk very interesting. Plus he's the author of WoT of course.
Anyway, getting back in line for the first time I noticed that Isabel had finally arrived as well. Well, actually, she noticed and recognized me and said hi. As the line moved forward we talked and I began to like her. Now that she has left the nervousness of the first few days behind she's pretty cool. (Well, besides the tendency to still talk a lot about WoT-related subjects using the translated words... *shivers*) Oh, and when she arrived at Jordan for the first time, he said something like "I'm sorry for teasing you so much", and then loudly stated that she really was 17, so we could all jump on her.
Ah, it's like the passport scene, something for which you should have been there to truly comprehend; it's hard to capture the humor in a report like this.
I also saw Iwitness again, and Beidomon Sedai and Lord Agelmar, two of my friends who very occasionally post here, showed up as well. Plus a few TFD members...
Isabel, KuraFire, Iwitness and me made quite a few rounds, having something signed (I had a lot of cards from the card game with me), asking questions, moving back to the end of the line, discussing what questions we'd ask next and what the previous answers meant, and then all over again. I think we made at least 10 rounds, although the group changed every now and then with one of the other stopping for a moment, not making the round. And if people who hadn't been there yet showed up just as we stood at the back of the line, we let them go first, and waited on each other, and took pictures, and discussed WoT and talked more to Jordan and... It was just amazing fun. We got a few RAFOs here and there of course, but the amount of questions answered was really awesome.
Let's see what my memo-recorder has...
[Jordan was repeating every question because most of the audience couldn't hear the questions] He wants to know... [on a tone that set people laughing already, then: louder, with a malicious gleam in his eyes] Sander wants to know whether there are questions that I think fans should ask me, and haven't been asking. [more laughter]
Sander...I am not going to tell you what sort of underwear I'm wearing. [spontaneous applause] There are very few questions that fans have not asked me. There are many questions that fans have asked me that I have not answered. There are a number of questions that fans have asked me that have made me blush. There are one or two questions that fans have asked me that have made me require smelling-salt to get out of the room on my feet.
No, I am not going to give you more ammunition. You know, this is like the Calvin & Hobbes strip. I've just been assaulted with snowballs all the way from the sidewalk, and when I manage to reach the door, a voice calls out to me, "Hey, come out here and help us make some more snowballs!"
Even though they said he wouldn't do it because there were about 300+ people there and the fact that he talked for 15 minutes (Q&A), when I got up there, made a comment about the book, he smiled, asked what I was doing talking to his wife, told him getting the book signed, he flipped the page, laughed and said "Not that I am supposed to, but do you want your name in it like the way my wife wrote it?" I said, "No, you could put tsorovan'm'hael down?" He smiled, nodded, and did it, all in lower case to boot! I think he knows me from message boards, how scary is that!
That was me, front row. Anyway, that question about Moiraine was stupid, you had to know that was a RAFO. He did personalize mine, laughed at me about flirting with his wife, who was sitting next to me. He did remember me from The Path of Daggers book signing, so he quickly personalized this copy of Crossroads of Twilight for me. :D :lol Lucky me.
He then retired to his signing table and began autographing away. I took up a position about 15 feet away so I could listen to some of his discourse with the audience. When signing the first book his ink ran out. At this point he seemed to panic somewhat. His host scrambled to find a solution, but Jordan stated repeatedly that he needed "his case", a black attaché-style pouch that apparently had ink replacements. Several fans quickly offered their own pens, but Jordan replied that he greatly preferred the "Census" pen as it had a cushioned section that made it much easier to hold the pen for hours at a time. Apparently growing somewhat uncomfortable, Mr. Jordan summoned his wife loudly by bellowing "Harriet!" into the crowd—disquieting some of the fans. Soon she appeared to soothe him and search for the case. Apparently they had brought the wrong style of replacements. The issue was soon resolved and signing resumed.
Signing was limited to two hard-covers per person, though they were permitted to return to the end of the line for more signatures as time permitted. Personalizations were discouraged. Mr. Jordan allowed photos, though he called out that he had one rule: "Men must keep their clothes on."
One fan brought a British edition of Crossroads of Twilight to the signing table. Jordan happily signed, but became agitated as he described to the immediate audience that the British publishers had lied to him. "They told me that under no circumstance would they release the book before the American release date." Despite this pledge, however, his novel was released in late December rather than in January. He further commented "you only get one chance to lie to me." I suppose we will have to wait and see the ramifications of this British publishing error at the time of the next book's release. Jordan commented that "perhaps I will not even send them my manuscript until after the American audience already has their novels in print."
Later, I was sitting elsewhere in the bookstore further perusing, and noticed that Harriet, his wife, was seated reading through a book from the shelves. Several fans stopped by to obtain her signature next to Mr. Jordan's, to which she pleasantly assented. One individual asked her what she thought of the importance of book signings—did it really sell that many more books? She responded that book signing tours were really only profitable when you hit the really big leagues. Unless you are very popular author, you would often find only five or so people at the signing, which was very humbling to a writer.
In the case of this tour, the publisher was gunning for the number one spot on the New York Times list. To generate such a rating, it helped to have a big book signing tour. In nearly every location so far, a reporter had been present, which bolsters the appearance of popularity of the novel in the media's eyes. Additionally, the book signings give the author some human connection to his readers. Mrs. Rigney stated that writing is "one of the loneliest occupations, in which you stare at a white screen and make black things appear" all day long. Harriet further commented that BN.com had sold over 70,000 copies of Crossroads of Twilight on the first day of release.
A female fan spoke with her briefly, commenting that as a girl she felt somewhat underrepresented in the genre. Mrs. Rigney replied that one thing she appreciated about "The Wheel of Time" was the strong female characters. My own observations of the 100 person crowd was that at least a third were indeed female.
I briefly asked her how Mr. Jordan was enjoying his Porsche. She laughed and commented that he rarely had a chance to take it out, thought "it looked beautiful sitting in the garage." She stated that in two years it only had 1,400 miles on it.
I also commented that I frequented www.dragonmount.com. She recalled that DM.com personnel had been present at the previous days' San Jose signing, who were also working on a short film - which may now be "live action"? [Editor's note: No. At the San Jose book signing we had a camera and we're interviewing some people for a short video we're planning to put online. This was not related to the DM movie.)
With that, I thanked her for coming to Menlo Park and for sharing Mr. Jordan's time with the readers. Mr. Jordan concluded his session by signing approximately 40 of the store's novels to be included in Kepler's inventory—so if you stop by soon and look for the "signed by author" sticker on the dust jacket, you may have a signed first-edition of Crossroads of Twilight of your own for normal retail price.
Here is some news that I picked up from the Jan. 13th Santa Cruz signing. I didn't have a recording device so I am paraphrasing what he said. On a side-note the entire interview was taped for public access TV. [Editor's Note: Very cool. If anybody has that on tape, please send it to us and we'll get permission to stream it online.]
They had fliers which stated that it was the publisher who set the rules for the signing, the book totals, hardcover etc.... The flier stated that throughout this tour he will be signing two per person, hardcover only and will not personalize them.
So, I travel down to my friend's place early this morning hoping to get me one signed copy of Crossroads of Twilight...
Random aside: The weeks leading up to the signing I had planned on getting him to sign all of my books, but the last week I was too busy to think about it, and sadly left all of my other books at home.
We have arrive at the Kroger's (Yes, Kroger's) about an hour early and there's not much happening so we waste an hour (literally; it's a long story). We arrive back at the Kroger's right at noon, see what's going on—a small line has formed—and go back to the truck to pick up our books.
Well, like I said, it was a small line, and there was about 30 people there waiting and the line went fairly quickly and smoothly. Most were just regular Kroger's customers and didn't really have much to say to him, it seems. I kept my ears perked listening for any signs of newsgroup regulars and I spied none—If you were there, sorry I missed you.
Me, being a dork and not being able to come up with any questions that would not be a RAFO, just stood by and listened as my friend calmly chatted with RJ. My friend brought his copy of Legends (and four other books), and had me get it signed since I only had Crossroads of Twilight. I hadn't thought about it and asked my friend where he wanted it signed (he was planning on getting all the authors to sign it...).
RJ solved the problem by signing in his section only, suggesting that to sign at the front would invoke the ire of Robert Silverberg. A nice man, he said, just not the man you'd want to piss off. My friend also asked him what he enjoyed reading. RJ's response was *mumble mumble* (names escape me, sadly), and that he was currently in his fifth reread of *mumble mumble*'s series. My friend's unavailable for comment right now, so I'll add it later. RJ also got a little amused by my friend's copy of The Shadow Rising complete with library tags and stickers.
We didn't stick around after that, having completed all that we could've done, that is, we had no more books to have signed. All in all, we had a good time and RJ was very pleasant to talk with, and he seemed to be enjoying himself too. My only regret is that I did not bring all of my books; I could've gotten them all signed easily, with much time to spare.
Another random aside: I was waiting in line thinking about the red pens... I would never do such a thing myself, but I'd like to say this to anyone who's thinking about it. Do it with respect, please. I was looking to see if I could figure out how he'd respond to it but, if anything, I don't think he'd take it too well. He's a regular dude, just like you and me, so think about it carefully before you just throw a red pen down and tell him to find a damn editor—especially with Harriet standing next to him.
My friends and I will also be at the Dayton signing, which is very near where I live, so hopefully I'll be able to get all of my books signed. I don't know though, the crowd's going to be huge. If I'm going to ask questions, these are what I'm going to ask:
See if he can confirm that he said that Taim was not Demandred. Does Tuon or Suroth have the "sad" bracelets? Is Egwene going to use her dreaming talents to communicate with anyone outside of the Tower?
Again, I can't think of anything that won't be a RAFO at this point, but it's worth a shot anyway. I wanted to ask them at the Dayton signing because the environment will be a little more fan based than in the Kroger's; might be a better place to ask them, I think.
OK, Tim and Matthew did a great job on many, many aspects of the Dayton signing. I'm going to try and not repeat much of their reports; additionally, a lot of things that RJ said and many questions are well-known to the group (such as the Shipwrecked book, the last scene already known, Halima wears a thong, etc.).
I was impressed with the number of folks—Tim was right, near 300. I lucked out—arrived at the store around 5:45 PM, saw no seats in the back of the signing area, lurked up front (passing Tim and his friend as they played Go, only I had no idea who they were) and sat down in the second row. Turns out the store handed out numbers going front to back, so I was #9. Having staked out a good seat, I was hoping for a good chance to ask all of the questions posted in the Last Call thread from yesterday.
Also, I happened to be sitting next to Scott Carlson, an occasional poster to the group since 1998. I sadly did not get the name of his friend, but they were great to meet and discuss theories about the books, as well as talk about other sci-fi/fantasy works.
OK...a few things missed on or not quite heard right from the other posters on the pre-signing spiel:
Then the signing began. I had my list of questions from yesterday's thread, but resolved to only ask during my time in line, and shout out others as opportunity allowed. Permit me to digress and ask opinion: at the signings, I am always unsure about what is courteous/allowable protocol. More people than not seem to wait and line up and say nothing at all to him (though of the four signings I've been to, this was the most with people asking to have pictures taken with him), and so I figure, "Hey, if they're not going to ask something, I will!"
However, I can never really tell if this annoys RJ or not, and some of his answers were fairly curt. I couldn't tell if it was because I was being rude (or he thought I was) or that he simply didn't want to answer the question. The question about his time at The Citadel was mine—meaning I asked on behalf of a poster here—was answered with what I took as "Shut the hell up!" shortness. If anyone can offer thoughts as to what they think is acceptable at such events, I would be most courteous.
Also, I happened to run into an old friend whom I had not seen for two years or more at the signing. So, despite my choice seat (front row after getting books signed) and list of questions, both my uncertainty of what was acceptable re: number of questions and the presence of my old friend made it impossible to ask all I wanted, and to hear everything asked by fans.
However, I was able to glean a few things by either direct question or hearing it:
The following is from my recording and observations from meeting Robert Jordan at Waldenbooks, located in Waterford, CT on January 17, 2003. There were about 200 people waiting in line, and I was about 2/3 of the way in the line. The line was shaped like a horseshoe and I found myself directly opposite the entrance to Waldenbooks. A Waldenbooks employee was informing every new comer of the rules, "Mr. Jordan will sign only two books. They must be books from the Wheel of Time series. Mr. Jordan will not personalize. Mr. Jordan will sign only hardcover books." Somebody near me asked if the RPG books were okay. The employee left and came back to inform him that Jordan would sign the RPG books.
At around 6:00 Jordan stepped out of Waldenbooks with his cane and a slight limp. He looked around and announced, "There are too many people here, I'm going home." After the laughter subsided, he made a joke about being security's worst nightmare because, "I'm going to stand here and talk with you for a few minutes. Before I go and sign I'm going to answer questions a lot of people ask, that way you can ask something else and not waste time at the table.
At this point Robert Jordan went into Waldenbooks and was about to sit down, but came back out again and said, "A lot of people ask when will the next book be released. I promise on my mother's grave the next book will be on the shelves in stores." At this point some punk kid walking by screamed, "YEAH! I DON'T EVEN READ YOUR DAMN BOOKS! YEAH!" So I could not hear the conclusion to Jordan's statement. But one of the employees walked over from where Jordan was standing towards my end of the line, so I called her over and asked her what the last part was. She said he finished by saying "when I have finished writing it."
Once again Jordan left to go sign books, but came back out soon after saying that it was okay to take pictures of him, to have your picture taken with him, but under one rule, men can't take their clothes off. After this he really did begin the signing.
It took me about 30 minutes to get near to where Jordan was signing (the line moved really fast). I saw two people get their books signed before me. The first young man made a rude comment to Jordan as he walked off, saying, "See you in two years at the next book signing, if the book is out by then." But Jordan took it in stride and without comment turned his attention to the next person who asked him a question in a whisper, and he received a RAFO. The man seemed upset and asked, "What does that mean?" to which Jordan calmly answered, "It means I don't want to give away too much of the story." I handed my two books to his assistant, who got them ready to sign. I was a bit nervous, since the last two guys had been rather curt with Jordan, I wasn't sure if his mood would have soured. But he wasn't, in fact one of the things that impressed me the most, was that he was still in a jovial mood. I ended up asking two questions, but they are not story related, but his answers are interesting anyway.
I was about tenth in line, I arrived VERY early, and passed the time playing the RPG. During this time, the manager of the Waldenbooks came out and told us that Crossroads of Twilight had just become #1 on the best sellers list, to which we all applauded. Being so close to the front of the line, I did hear what was said about the next book (which I believe he says about every book :) 'I can promise you, on my mothers grave, that the next book will definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, be released as soon as I finish writing it.' To which, as was stated, met with much laughter. I did get to hear a few more questions asked, before I was shooed out of the store by a clerk (two by me):
I had a tape recorder there, but for some reason, the moment RJ started talking, it stopped recording :(. It doesn't really matter anyway, because we left it at the store. This is not word for word what happened, but it's pretty close.
Alright, Mr. Robert Jordan will be coming in a few moments, and he'll answer some questions for 20 minutes, and then...
Oh, I can introduce myself.
Ok, well then, put your hands together for Robert Jordan! (applause)
Alright, I'm not going to be answering questions for any bloody 20 minutes. And of course, any question I don't answer here, I'm sure to answer at the signing. But first off, its Nynaeve. (Laughter) It's Egwene. Not Eegwene, not Egweenee. Egwene. (Laughter) Cyndane, Semirhage, Aiel, (etc.)
NOTE: If you want to find out accurate character pronunciations, read the glossary of The Eye of the World.
There are an estimated 65,000 fan Web sites devoted to Jordan's work. But The Wheel of Time series has not been made into a film or miniseries. (In the 1980s, Jordan wrote a series about Conan the Destroyer of film fame. The character was first created in the 1930s by Robert E. Howard.) Jordan promises that he will write "at least" two more novels in The Wheel of Time series.
"What makes Jordan so popular, I think, is that everything he writes makes perfect sense," notes Swedish high school teacher Lars Jacobsson, 27, from Malmö. He has been a fan since 1995. "In most other fantasy books, there's always a point where you go, 'I don't buy that, that doesn't seem right.' In The Wheel of Time, that point has yet to come."
Not quite a couple, only nine days, and it more than makes up for it. It's fun. I've had a couple of crowds of over 600, and several from 500 to 300, so believe me, I get a lot of company on the road.
His is a vivid daydream, alive on paper. Not an alternate reality.
For those who suspect Robert Jordan is so consumed by his books, so immersed in their universe that the fanciful has more substance than the tangible, be assured this is not the case.
He still takes out the garbage. And no fictional creations attend him as he does so.
The books of his "Wheel of Time" fantasy cycle may possess prodigious detail, and characters who seem to breathe on the page, but the author recognizes the warp and woof of the real quite well, thank you, and embraces the knowledge that, in time, the party will come to an end.
The Charleston native is as grounded as one of the most successful writers in the world can be. Hyperbole? Do millions read your books with the same fervor accorded Tolkien? Do 500 people a day show up for your book signings, from Sacramento to Sydney? Are your novels translated into 20 languages? Are you the standard-bearer for a major publishing company? Are there thousands of Web sites devoted in whole or in part to discussing your work?
We thought not.
Jordan chuckles, ruefully.
"I have more often met people—just as frightening in a way—who think because of these books I am some sort of guru or sage, and that they can learn great wisdom from me. I just write books. I tell stories, that's all. The books demand as much as the reader is willing to give them. My main concern is to write them in such a way that they will not merely stand up to repeated readings, but still offer something the second time through, or the fifth."
I did have some people mention your movie. Not just the folks who came to various signings who are associated with it, either. I think there are people out there eagerly awaiting it.
Take care, Jason. It's back to work for the likes of me. No rest for the wicked. I really hope—knock wood, spit over your shoulder, and sacrifice to the gods—that I can finish up in twelve books total. We shall see.
I rarely look in the fan sites except when someone tells me that there is something I should check out on one of them. The occasional visit is all I have time for, since most of my day is given over to writing.
I do believe the websites are valuable for interacting with my fans. I have an on-going relationship with Jason Denzel and Dragonmount that has lasted for a number of years, now. This relationship has allowed Jason to bring various rumors to my attention, so I can let the fans know that I haven't been hit by a bus, defected to China, or disappeared in a flying saucer piloted by Elvis. Both Dragonmount and Wotmania cooperated with Tor books in getting questions from readers for me to post answers to on the Tor Books website, and in finding romances that began over or because of The Wheel of Time.
It does seem very odd to me that people are still posting new ideas after all this time. Frankly, I never expected ANYTHING like this when I began writing the cycle.
THURSDAY 22 July 2004
The convention started on a Wednesday, I think. I arrived that day but did not go to the convention center. I got into town and crashed at my Aunt and Uncle's house. The next morning I went there and met the Dabel Brothers. It turns out that we were to share a booth with Spooklight Productions, an independent film company from Arkansas. They're a great group of guys, and I suggest you check out their film, "FLIP".
Anyway, Robert Jordan was supposed to do a book signing that day around 5 PM. The signing ended up being later than expected though. About 6 PM, one of the Dabel Bros picked Robert and Harriet up from where they were staying and brought them to the convention center. I met them at the curb along with Bob Kluttz (from Encyclopedia WoT) and Nicole Dubuc (a long-time Dragonmount member). The three of us escorted RJ and Harriet up to his first panel discussion ("Kicking Serious Butt: Action and Adventure in SF and Fantasy") while Les Dabel went and parked the car.
I think Robert and Harriet were tired because of the time difference, but they still seemed happy to be there. On a side note: RJ looked great. He's lost some weight, and was telling some fans who asked about it that he's been working hard to do so.
Anyway, we made it to room 7A which was filled with about maybe a hundred people. At least one fan approached RJ right away asking to have his books signed. After signing several books for the guy, RJ found his way to the table with the other authors (among them was Raymond E. Feist and Harry Harrison). The panel began and was over about an hour later. RJ didn't speak as much that time as he did in a later panel, but maybe it had to do with jet lag. He chimed in every now and then with the other authors, but he definitely did not dominate any of the conversation.
After the panel, he was almost immediately surrounded by people asking to sign their books. Having no other assistance, I stepped in and told everyone that "Robert Jordan will be signing books outside in just a minute or two." I got him outside the room (where there was room to breathe) and made sure he and Harriet had chairs to sit down in. I got everyone in line like the people at the book stores always did, and things were much better.
RJ signed everyone's books, regardless of how many they had. (Only about 20-30 people were in line). He personalized the autographs if the person asked, and he took pictures. He answered questions too, as well.
Before I continue, I need to inform you that what I'm posting here is only a partial account of our dinner. We discussed a lot of things with Robert and Harriet which are more personal in nature. Some things we were asked kindly not to post about, and other things are being left out on my own judgment call. But don't worry; I'm including all the really juicy stuff, especially as it relates to WoT.
Anyway, we had carefully planned out the appropriate seating arrangement, but ultimately Harriet and RJ sat elsewhere than we had predicted. They sat across from each other in the middle of the long table, but both were still able to see the awesome view of the ocean that we had. I was at RJ's right side, and Melissa was across from me. Bob was at Robert's left, and Brad was at Harriet's right.
After a few minutes of mingling at the table, I stood and gave a toast to him and Harriet, their work, and to the continued positive relationships between them and the WoT community in general. We drank to it, and then RJ stood and gave his own toast. He commented that he deeply appreciated all of the fan sites and said that he had a very, very long list of sites book marked. (So yes people, he does read your WoT website every now and then!) He commented that he had Dragonmount, TarValon, WoTmania, and SilkLantern saved in his "Frequently Visited" sub-folder. He thanked us all, and toasted to our continued success.
The dinner conversation was fantastic. There were never any awkward moments. We discussed a variety of topics including the origins of the tradition of shaking hands, clinking glasses together, and why dinner knives are rounded at the tip and kept on your right-hand side. We talked about cats, movies, and other random things before we started discussing the books.
At last, dinner wound to an end. Neither RJ or Harriet cared for desert, but they polished off their third (I think) glasses of wine. I took care of the bill (we all chipped in for Robert and Harriet's dinner). While we waited for the Taxi to arrive, we took pictures and they both had a glass of brandy.
Melissa and I escorted Harriet and Robert out to their car, thanked them a million times over, and said that we'd love to do it again. Both of them thanked us and said that they would also enjoy getting together again next time they're out. Realistically I know it will depend on their traveling schedule and availability. But it was a very cool feeling to know that these two people cared about the websites and communities that we've built around their books. I think that our little dinner party represented all of WoT fandom in a positive way. Next time we do this, maybe we'll open the invitations up to a broader group. Perhaps a raffle contest?
Overall, this was a really special night for all of us. After they left, Brad, Melissa, and I talked for hours about everything we had heard. I don't think we got to sleep until really late that night. I bet you can understand why.
I've been quite astounded by the fans, especially the online community. There are hundreds I'm told, and some people say thousands, but I think I can safely say hundreds of web sites dedicated to fans, run by fans. It's one reason why I don't really have a fan site of my own, a web site of my own, aside from what Tor Books gives me.
The fans are really remarkable. They discuss the books in incredible detail, argue about things in incredible detail. I was at a convention called Dragon*Con in Atlanta, which has a track dedicated to the Wheel of Time, and one of the things that I did was to hand out the awards after the final round of the trivia contest. Some of the questions that these people were answering, I would have had to go to my notes to find the answer to. I mean, "What is the name of the cat at the inn called The Queen's Blessing in Caemlyn?" Ahhh, and they knew it. It was remarkable.
Robert Jordan was signing books today at the Chapter 11 store at the intersection of Peachtree Road and Peachtree Battle. I arrived early with my husband and a box of leftover goodies from Dragon*Con that we wanted to get rid of. For those who don't know, Tor sent us 900 sample booklets of Knife of Dreams and The Eye of the World, and 2,000 Knife of Dreams bookmarks. We still had quite a few left after the convention and we don't want to store that many, so everyone who attended the signing got to take some of those with them.
The bookstore policy was that Jordan would sign only two books and they had to be purchased from the store. However, Jordan immediately brushed that aside and signed anything you put in front of him and as much as you gave him. He even did a few personalizations upon request for people.
Since the signing wasn't very well advertised (I found out about it from the Jordans on the last day of Dragon*Con), turnout was low. I was the "flapper" for Jordan. That's the person who opens all the books to the right page for signing so that the author can sign more quickly. If you were there, I was the girl in the green and brown suit and my husband Jimmy was the Asian man in gray talking about sword forms.
All in all, it was a nice, quiet evening with a favorite author for the hard core Atlanta fans. Those of you who are Dragon*Con regulars might be interested to note that Cadsuane was there to get her books signed as well.
This should be confirmation that I do lurk upon occasion, on several sites. At the moment, working only half days on the new book—that will continue until the tour begins; after the tour, it is back to full days—I have time to do that more often than when I am writing all day. Then I can only drop by once in a while for a a few minutes to scan through the thread headers and see if anyone else has figured out who killed Asmodean—some of you have, but I won't say who—or whether some incredible rumor has begun growing like a fungus. But I am not a member at any site, so forget about the possibility that I make posts.
Take care, guys. And remember—no cancer.
After these initial comments, RJ proceeded to take questions from audience members. I won't actually provide all the questions and answers in this post, since a large number are really questions that have been asked many times before, and many of us are already familiar with the answers.
I'm fairly surprised that so many questions were reminiscent of questions that have been posed to RJ in the past, but I think it has given me some insight into our little community here on the Wotmania message board, and the reality of RJ's fan base as a whole. The truth is that we represent a fraction of a percentage of a fraction of a percentage of RJ's audience. Most fans probably don't even know that RJ has numerous interviews posted online that could answer their question, and far far more fans are interested in who RJ's favorite character is, or what advice he might give to aspiring authors than they are about the minutiae of the series. The reality is that the vast majority of his fans are simply content to enjoy the story and wait for the next book without spending hours in discussion about plot points or combing though chapters in search of insights to the possible future the story holds.
So, I won't provide every Q&A, partially because I was in line for the microphone for some of them and unable to jot down the responses, as well as distracting myself with keeping calm and running through my head exactly how I would phrase the questions—not that that particularly helped—but also because some of it is information that has been reported before.
I'll start with my own questions, since they were about the only story-based questions in the whole lot.
My, this could get addictive. I hope you guys realize that I'll be going silent this weekend, for the duration of the tour. But I'll try to get in another post or two before then. No promises, however.
First off, apologies to everyone if I misspell your screen name. It seems that may turn out to be a bad habit I can't break. Spell-check is no help at all, of course.
For Deadsy, the last book I completed was Walter Mosley's Cinnamon Kiss. I just started Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. And I'm ashamed to say that when I first saw your post on Wotmania about having a secret, I thought, "Ah-ha! Palm or hairbrush?" Just following the context, and your blushes. Then I realized what it was. Thank you for keeping the secret.
For Corin Ashaman, I've never changed anything because of a post. I did think of doing so when I first discovered the online community. I'd see someone who had figured out where I was going with something and think that I should change it just to keep the surprise factor. But there was always somebody else, often a lot of somebodies, who would post explaining why the first post just had to be wrong. So I went ahead and did what I had planned to do. Now, when somebody figures out what's what, I just think that's somebody who's on the ball and go on with my writing.
For elementfwwe, what keeps me going is that I enjoy what am doing. Think about it. I can make a living doing what I enjoy more than anything except sex.
I don't pattern characters after real people, but I do sometimes lift part of a real person for a character. I will say that a character in Knife of Dreams, Charlz Guybon, is named after a man whose wife won an auction for naming rights after I agreed to be part of a fund raiser for an English charity that works with victims of torture. She sent me his description, which I used. As I've often said, each of my major female characters has at least one element drawn from Harriet. And I won't tell her which parts of which characters came from her. That despite the fact that, as she likes to point out, she knows where I sleep. She did figure out that she is Semirhage when the garbage doesn't get to the curb on time, though.
As for my idol, that is my father, now deceased. He was a wonderful man, with a rich life. I'll try to paint a small picture. He got his first car, a Model A, at the age of thirteen because he had the habit of hitching rides with bootleggers in the Tennessee mountains, and after he was in a wreck where the driver ran off and my father told the police who had been chasing them that he had been driving, his father decided to put an end to the hitching. He was a noted middleweight boxer in the 1930s, rising in the rankings, but stopped after he badly injured another man in the ring. He was a veteran of WWII who spent a lot of time behind the Japanese lines, a quiet, gentle man who taught me to rebuild automobile engines, to hunt and fish. He told stories over the campfire when we were out hunting or fishing, thus starting me on the road to storytelling myself. He never said a word about me stealing shotgun shells from his stock so a known bootlegger and poacher would take me into the woods with him. Well, I didn't know about the poaching until later. But Junior knew more about the woods than anybody else I've ever met. My father was a poker shark with a photographic memory who allowed me to sit in for three hands whenever the weekly game was at our house, even when I was young enough to need to sit on three encyclopedias to be able to get my arms on the table. He staked me, he ate the losses, and we split any winnings I had. I did win one of those hands while sitting on stacked up Encyclopedia Americanas. He told my brothers and me that he had few requirements of us. Be honest. Keep your word always. Try to do better with your life than he had done with his. And whatever you decided to be, whether it was a college professor or an auto mechanic, be the best at it that you could manage to be. Yes, he was, and is, my idol.
At the book signing, I was kinda paranoid that I'd get kicked out cause I didn't have a badge, but really, nobody checked. Tam and I were about 5 people behind WSB, and Isabel was late. When she finally did show up, she cut into the line and stood with WSB. It was funny, though, everyone knew Isabel. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. But I had this little superior feeling (i dunno why) because she was with US and not with THEM, if that makes sense. She was a Theorylander, and everyone knew her. That was cool, I thought.
Finally, the line started moving, and WSB and Isabel were going over that huge list of questions that everyone submitted, trying to figure out which ones to ask and which ones had already been answered, and which ones were answered that might spawn new questions. I dunno, I didn't really care, I just wanted my books signed. I think it took maybe 30 minutes for me and Tam to get to the front. Isabel and WSB hadn't left after they got theirs signed, so they were standing around waiting to hear the answers to Tam's and my questions. Tamyrlin asked some weird question about cords and stuff, and I was just kinda speechless, cause, I mean, here I am, standing in front of the man who has dominated my literary reading for the past 7-8 years. I was kinda speechless. So he's signing my books, and I'm just standing there, and Isabel elbows me sharply in the ribs, and says "Ask him a question!" in a low voice.
Camel: "Oh, right, I get a question."
Camel: "Yeah, wheres your hat, in your little, in your picture, I was really looking forward to seeing the hat."
"I didnt bring the black one this time, I brought a brown one. I thought it might get rained on a lot."
Camel: "I was really looking forward to the hat."
Isabel was furious. She got over it though. It must be the Camel charm, you know.
So then Tam and I decided to go find him something to eat, since he was starving, and it was now about 5:00, so my lunch had been fully digested and my stomach was growling. But first we had to go get my car from the parking lot and take it to the hotel. So we got there, and apparently I owed a 15 dollar fine or something. I paid it and we went back to the hotel. And I feel that I must point out that Tamyrlin suggested a route back to the hotel, which led us in circles for half an hour before I decided to stop listening to the Lord of the Board and find the place on my own. We got there two minutes later. That's what you get for listening to Tam, folks. Then we started walking to find some food. The Quiznos was closed, so we went to McDonald's instead. Then we went back to where the bakery was, sat down, and got on Theoryland and posted again. Tam and I then returned to the hotel, and he began typing up the transcripts.
In a word, boring.
However, at some point we were listening to the transcript, and Tam made the comment that RJ had just pretty much flat out stated that Nynaeve was a Learner. Isabel was furious! She threw this cute little hissy fit and screamed "NO! NO! NO!" at the top of her lungs, jumped up and down on the bed, and tried to tell us RJ was wrong. Tamyrlin was sitting there, jaw on the floor, and then he says:
Tamyrlin: "Isabel, I'm just quoting what RJ said, I'm not putting my spin on this!"
Isabel: "He's wrong!" (ack!) "Now, you need to write that he's wrong on there!"
Tamyrlin: "This is a transcript, Isabel, not a commentary!"
Isabel then proceeded to grab the tape recorder and refused to give it back until she finished her tirade. Actually, at one point she sat down on the bed and ticked off all of the reasons why Nynaeve was a sparker. She even got her book out and found quotes. When she grabbed the book, I grabbed the tape recorder and gave it back to Tam, lol. This was quite possibly the funniest moment of the entire weekend.
Well, that and RJ's comment about Tam's theories and the "Nice try, Jack!" line.
Anyway, later I fell asleep. About an hour later, I wake up to Isabel practically sitting on my feet, and WSB and Tam arguing about something on the transcript. *yawn* I turned on the TV and watched something, I forget what. Anyway, around 9:00, the following conversation ensues:
Tamyrlin: "Hey Camel, pizza?"
Tamyrlin (tossing a $20 to Camel): "Order it."
Tamyrlin: "Sure, why not?"
Camel: "What do you want on it?"
Tamyrlin: "What do you like?"
Camel: "I like everything, so whatever you want."
Tamyrlin: "Sausage and onions?"
I must have made a face, cause he laughed.
Tamyrlin: "You don't like sausage and onions?"
Camel: "I like them.. I've just never had JUST sausage and onions."
Tamyrlin: "Oh. Well, we can split it half and half. Get whatever you want on your half."
So I go out to the lobby and get a flyer for the local pizza place, and order the pizza. I got one half sausage and onion and the other half pepperoni and mushrooms. I went back to the room and turned on the TV again. Flipping through the channels, I discovered that "Iron Chef America" was on. It was better than watching "Walker, Texas Ranger", so I watched that, while Tam typed up transcripts and WSB looked at something (porn? nah) on his computer.
For those of you who haven't watched "Iron Chef" on the Food Network, it's basically a cook off contest between two chefs. They have an hour to prepare so many dishes based around a specified secret ingredient. Tonight's ingredient was mushrooms. It was a cool battle. About halfway through, the phone rings. Pizza's here! So I go out there and grab the pizza and bread sticks and come back to the room.
I open the breadsticks box and have one of those, while Tam reaches into the pizza, and grabs a slice of pizza. We're eating and watching Iron Chef, and then I reach into the pizza box, and there are only two slices of PEPPERONI AND MUSHROOM left, and there are FOUR SAUSAGE AND ONION slices.
Camel: "Whoa, Tam, you're eating my pizza."
Tamyrlin: "No, I'm not, I'm eating mine."
Camel: "Dude, you're eating pepperoni and mushroom."
Tamyrlin: "OH NO! I'm so sorry, Camel!"
Camel: "It's okay, don't worry about it."
He kept apologizing. After my slices were gone, I tried one of his sausage and onion pizzas. Again, I must have made a face, 'cause he said "Don't like it?" I shook my head and ate some more bread sticks.
Then Isabel came in and everyone argued about WoT stuff. Then we went to sleep. I got the bed this time.
Tam and I went over to the Q&A. As we're crossing the street from the Mariott to the Hyatt, this guy goes:
Man: "Whoa there. Where's your badge?"
Tamyrlin: "Well, he lost it earlier."
Man: "Can't let you in without a badge, sir."
Camel: "But I lost it, man. I paid for it and everything."
Man: "Well, did you report it?"
Man: "Do you have a hotel key?"
Camel: "Yeah, to the Travelodge down the street."
Man: "Let me see it." I showed it to him. "Okay, you've got a hotel key, go on."
So we went into the Q&A, and I watched everyone ask questions. At Isabel's first question, RJ said "Come up here and ask me closer." cause he couldn't understand her. So she went up there and showed him our huge list of questions. I got a picture. He read one of them and answered it. Then Tam asked a question and basically got RAFO'd, and he came back and sat down. I suggested a question to him, and he says, "Go ask it, man." So I got in line. And waited. Finally:
Camel: "I know a lot of questions have been asked and I was wondering if either of you knew of a question we haven't asked that you think we should have asked already, and what would that be?"
So I sat down, suitably embarrassed. Tam and WSB thought it was hilarious that he thought my name was Jack. (Hint: it's not). After that, we went over to the mall and grabbed a bite to eat. I got a picture of Tinkerbell. It was cool. Walking back to the hotel, I took a picture of some Cobra guys solely to stop up traffic in the hallway. Mwahahaha.
Thursday is not officially part of the convention. However, so many people have become Dragon*Con savvy over the last few years and realized that early arrival is the way to go, that it might as well be. Thursday afternoon was spent hanging our new flags in the Kennesaw conference room of the Hyatt and meeting all the WoT fans coming from out of town. I had dinner that night with the Dragonmount group, which turned into a big gossip session. ("Remember that crazy chick that used to post back in 1999...") That night I split my time between the TarValon.net Pants Free Party and a group of noisy, drunk WoT fans on the tenth floor lounge of the Marriott. We were there until the hotel staff asked us to leave.
Remember the tenth floor. It pops up frequently.
Friday night we hosted a banquet at a nearby restaurant with Robert Jordan, his wife Harriet McDougal, Darrell Sweet and his wife Janet. It was great dinner and I'm sorry that the layout of the room prevented everyone from being as close to our guests as they would have liked. However, we were able to give everyone a few minutes with them after dessert was served, which I hope was satisfactory.
Afterwards, it was time for the Dragonmount Mead Party, hosted by long time DM members Scott, Nina and Jaime. This was located on the tenth floor of the Marriott, and stayed open late, as no one kicked us out this time. We passed around Mardi gras beads in honor of our friends who couldn't be there because of Hurricane Katrina. You can see them in various pictures all weekend.
Saturday kicked off bright and early with the fourth annual Dragon*Con parade. Once again, I marched as the Amyrlin Seat. We had several Tinkers, a group of Asha'man, a Seanchan woman, Mat Cauthon, the Daughter Heir of Andor and dozens of Aes Sedai. We marched from Woodruff Park to the Marriott by way of Atlanta's legendary Peachtree Street. The highlight was marching past the Hyatt and seeing Robert Jordan and his wife sitting on the planters clapping and cheering for us. It was one of those beautiful, rare moments that stays with you forever.
Afterwards, we held a discussion group on the misunderstood cultures from the series, such as the Seanchan.
After that we had the fifth annual Wheel of Time Costume Contest, with celebrity judges Teresa Patterson, Harriet McDougal and Robert Jordan. We had our largest turnout yet for this event, with over twenty contestants and several hundred people in attendance.
The winner of the Master category was Melissa Craib and Ben Gunderson for their portrayal of a Green sister and her Warder. I forget the name of the winner of the Novice category, but the costume was a Keeper raised from the Brown Ajah. Other notable costumes include a member of the Deathwatch Guard, Elayne Trakand, two Myrrdraal and several Mat Cauthons. It was an excellent year for costumes.
Afterwards, was our big sword form demonstration. But before we talk about it, I want to clear up a misconception. As those of you who attended know, we had to perform this in the Kennesaw room where the layout and ceiling height did not allow us to perform the full demonstration as rehearsed. Instead we had to put on a shortened version of the program. Many people mistaken believe that this is the result of "Dragon*Con screwing us over". This is far from the case. Dragon*Con this year had several issues regarding scheduling, the biggest was the sudden cancellation of Joss Whedon after months of rumors that he wasn't even invited to the convention. Joss WAS invited and confirmed by Universal.
However, when the rumors of his cancellation began to appear, the Programming Directors created two versions of the schedule. One that had Joss's appearances on it and one that did not. When we made the request for a larger room for this event, our request was put on one version of the schedule, but not on the other. The mistake wasn't realized until we were already at the convention. The room that I had been told was available for us was also booked to another group doing a light saber fight demo. When the mistake was realized, the senior Director we were working with offered to attempt to find us space elsewhere. We volunteered to take the sure thing and reworked the demo to make it fit into Kennesaw. The senior Directors at Dragon*Con have always been extremely supportive of the WoT track and sensitive to our needs. In five years, this is the first mix up like this we’ve experienced and they made every attempt to fix it onsite, before we asked them to stop.
So now that you know far more about organized nerdery than you ever wanted to know, what happened at the sword form demo? Well, instead of having a series of staged fights scripted from the descriptions in the books, my husband simply performed some of the moves based on a fan interpretation that's been passed around the internet for years. He took requests from the audience, as well as performing a series that he had practiced. Because of the truncated program, we were able to run it twice, accommodating all the people who had lined up to see it. We also had a good discussion going of the inspirations of the forms and how they might change depending on the culture of the swordsman.
Monday was another light day, which we needed. Our only real event was the final round of the trivia contest, which was won by Jennifer H. (I should note that this is the first year a member of Dragonmount.com has NOT won this event. Thanks Nina for spoiling our perfect record. =P) Robert Jordan was on hand to award the prize, which was a signed, personalized copy of Lord of Chaos. Harriet made fun of me for being groggy, but that's what I get for having fun.
It was one thing to know that we would have bigger crowds that weekend than we were used to. It was another thing to actually see the crowds of people patiently lining up to see what ever it was we had planned. The convention assigned us a larger conference room this year and we filled every seat, except for events occurring during a book signing. These crowds could have quickly become overwhelming, but they weren't. I believe this is because of the uncommon good sense and good manners of WoT fans. Generally speaking, I find that we are a more mature and educated fandom than some of the others based around TV shows or movies. So many of you helped us out, in small ways and in large. When I needed furniture moved, some guy in a Band uniform I had never seen before in my life was there to take the chairs out of my hands. When I needed raffle tickets distributed during a Q&A session, a good friend was there to do it. And when we needed to move the Jordan's through a huge crowd of fans to get them to their next event, we had no shortage of large, burly men to help make a path for them. You guys and everyone else made sure I had fun too and I deeply appreciate that.
kcf asks whether I can get Tor to include Phoenix, Arizona, in my tour. Sorry, but I just go where Tor sends me, and they make their choices based on some arcane ritual in the basement of the Flatiron Building that involves killing a white rooster at midnight. No; don't take that seriously. No threads about white roosters! Actually they receive proposals from a LOT of bookstores and chains, enough to keep me on the road for four or five months they tell me, and pick out what they can fit into roughly a month while hitting most of the major markets (Chicago, Seattle, Denver and St. Louis are among those that missed the cut this time), making the major chains feel well thought of (sorry, but that's how it is), and trying to hit as many New York Times reporting bookstores as possible. The extent of my involvement this time was getting them to include a second Barnes & Noble signing in Charleston, SC, some weeks after the tour ends, because the manager of that store had really worked hard to get the Charleston signing. And that is about how much involvement I have in picking cities in any tour.
For kcf again, I haven't visited the FAQs recently. I'll have to do so when I have time. It does take time to go through everything in even one FAQ, you know. I suspect by this time you guys may have bettered what I said a few years ago, that one-third of the FAQ information was right, one-third was close but no cigar, and one-third was pure blue sky fantasy. Occasionally I'll see something posted and think, "Well, you really have been paying attention, haven't you, now. You hit that dead on." This is especially interesting when somebody has accurately figured out what I intend to do in the future, or close to it. Of course, I also see posts that make me chuckle. Somebody who though he was taking the train to Boston but jumped on a roller-coaster instead.
First off, to all of you have said thank you, in so many ways, for writing these books, you're welcome. And also thank you. You have given me what every writer wants, a readership that is truly involved and interested. Thank you, very much.
Some of you have expressed worry over my lurking and a fear that I might take offense at some of the posts. I don't. Not even at the trolls. Please feel free to keep on saying whatever you have been saying. I am not the thought police.
For Seriana Sedai, don't worry. I won't be discussing spam here. To tell you the truth, I skip over it very quickly.
DomA asks whether I feel sadness at the hatred of Cadsuane. No, nor do I feel sadness over those who dislike Egwene or Elayne or Faile or insert name here. The characters are who I want them to be. Some, people will like, and others people will dislike. In any case, I've noticed that even Faile has her supporters. As for her, I like her a lot. But then, I like all of my characters, even Semirhage. Even Padan Fain. As a character, anyway. As for Faile, she is a tough woman with a lot of gumption. Taken prisoner, enslaved in truth, caught in a cleft stick by the threats of Galina and Therava, she has (1) tried to get her people to freedom as she could and (2) worked toward an escape for the rest. However tough her situation gets, she wastes zero time on moaning about it. She gets on with trying to make it better. And Cadsuane? She's the tough maiden aunt a lot of us have had. Not the one who tries to keep you a child your whole life. She's the one who began expecting at least some adult responses out of you at about age six, the one who was willing to hand you responsibilities that everyone else thought you were too young for. You probably had a more nerve-wracking time, and more excitement and adventure, with her than you did with any three or four other adults in your life.
Now then. Isabel. Does your mother know you're posting at 1 AM? Do I need to ask her to supervise your online activities? Well, I suppose it might be 1 AM Eastern time, or Pacific. And you are in the Netherlands. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. And thank you for the spirited defense. I probably won't answer plot-related questions, but who knows. I might slip up and do one now and then.
For JBunG, I will definitely be spending a lot more time writing than on the blog. Now, I put in an hour now and again on the blog, every few days. When I go on tour, the blog will go silent for a while. And when I come back and go to full work days on Book 12, I'll probably post no more than once a week unless I have something I think really needs to be said.
Well, here I am again. I've compiled a long list of questions from various places, and I'll try to answer as many as I can before the tour begins. I won't be taking them in any specific order.
First off, for JBumG, my apologies for misspelling your name.
For Niall Reborn, I don't think that lurking will make me lose detachment or distance. But then, I don't really do it very often.
Oh, yes. Slayer just chooses who he will be when he steps into or out of Tel'aran'rhiod. The stepping in and out is part of the mechanism for his change. He couldn't do it in the middle of a street, say, not without the stepping in or out. Which might be a little noticeable, since he would vanish from sight for a perceptible time.
For ems, I really don't mind that some of you hate characters, and I don't mind the spam. Sometimes I read the theories, and if you mean by listen to the debates, read the posted discussions, then yes, I do, sometimes. This is very much a sometime thing, though. I don't have much time to lurk, so I drift around until I see what seems an interesting thread and peek in.
For Mike Hopessorrow, it took me aback a little the first time I saw myself named as the Creator, but I don't really mind. So long as you don't start believing I deserve the cap. Now when a very pretty roughly twenty-year old girl, trembling mind, said to me, "You're a god!", that I liked a lot.
If I seem to be posting a lot, it's because the tour is coming up. I want to get in some of these things before I go away and the blog goes on hiatus. We'll be flying to New York on Saturday to take care of some business before the tour begins, on Tuesday. I'm a little worried about the first signing, I'll admit. I know I can pull a good evening crowd in NYC; I've done it before. But 12:30 on a Tuesday? That's the slot where they put politicians, movies stars and celebrities. Yes, I'm a little concerned.
I will try to post again tomorrow or Friday, but I can't guarantee. We've been housing relatives from New Orleans, you see. My younger brother Reynolds has already gone back and begun teaching high school again, and his son Rey, a NO cop who was at the precinct they dubbed Fort Apache until he was told off to drive a sick officer to Shreveport for medical aid, has also returned to duty after fighting off bronchitis. Rey's wife Heather, who has a masters in disaster relief management, is hoping to head back today or tomorrow with infant son David, while Reynolds' wife Barbara Gay will be heading back tomorrow or the next day with son Jim III. Can you spell hectic? I knew that you could.
Well, let's get on with it. By the way, I don't favor women in my answers. I just answer what seem like interesting questions where answering won't give away too much.
This may be the last post until after the tour, I'm afraid. We leave for NY early on Saturday, and that means tomorrow will be busy. There aren't only preps for the trip, there is the matter of getting things ready here for us to be away for a month. And there is this huge stack of bookplates that I have to finish signing for Time Warner (UK). At least they didn't do what they did the first time I agreed to sign bookplates. They sent me a carton with about 10,000 of the things, rough count. Good God! I think I ended up signing 500-1000. There just wasn't time. But there's never enough time, is there?
Now as to how I chose questions and why some of them don't come from the blog comments. First off, I pick up on things among the comments that look interesting at the moment. Also, I pick up questions from some of the fan sites when I'm drifting about lurking and see an interesting thread title. Wotmania has set up sections where people discuss what questions to ask and whether some questions should be avoided, and that makes it very easy to find more questions. That is why so many wotmaniacs are getting answers. Of course, the volume of questions means that even some that I originally chose out failed to make the cut in the end. At one point I had over sixty pages of printout listing questions. The list was growing faster than I could answer. I'm really sorry about that, guys.
For kcf, I knew your deus ex machina comment was humorous. Don't worry so much. Chill, man. Or girl, if that be the case.
For Anonymous—Carter, you won't take over too much of my time. As I have said before, once I return from the tour, it is back to full days writing, which means maybe an hour a week of lurking, and I will be doing no more than one post to the blog a week. Almost certainly not as long as this one, I'm afraid, but I think you'd rather have the book in a reasonable length of time. I hope that will be enough to keep you all satisfied after I've gone on this recent splurge. As to how I find time for everything including daily life, there is Harriet, and a housekeeper who does the shopping and dry cleaner runs and the like, Harriet's assistant Stuart who helps keep her head above water, and my assistant Maria who does the same for me. And then there is Kelly, the handyman, for heavy lifting. All together, they leave most of my time free for writing. I'm ashamed to admit that I go to the grocery store so seldom now that about every second visit I have to ask where to find items.
For Deadsy, you want to know what I wear when I'm writing? If I worked out in the morning, I may wear my sweats all day. If not, then it's a shirt, trousers and suspenders. Oh, yes, and shoes and socks. Thought you'd found a sneaky way to an answer to your "boxers or briefs" didn't you?
For Ben, I'm glad you have a school-sanctioned WoT club at Alfred. (I do use WoT once in a while. Sometimes, though, it just seems to me that it should be tWoT. No big deal either way.) As an aside, my goddaughter, Jessica Jones, got her degree in ceramics from Alfred. You might be able to find out a little about her there. After she left and studied at Xian (I hope I have the spelling right), she began being referred to as Jones of China. She studied with a man who had been designated a "living treasure" by the government, and she was the only non-Chinese ceramist invited to display her work in a national show just before she came home.
I see there has been a question on wotmania about whether there are more male or female readers. I don't know how it runs in the States, though attendance at my signings seems roughly equal, but I do have a fairly good idea about Britain. My British publisher commissioned a survey to identify my readership so they would know where to put advertising. The study said that my readership matched the demographic of Britain within the margin of error for the survey as to age level, income level, educational level, political party belonged to, newspaper read, magazines read, area of the country lived in...and gender. It was, in the words of the managing director, an ice cream scoop taken out of Britain.
About 40 people attended the Q&A and book signing at Chester County Books & Music in West Chester, PA. R.J. spoke for about 10 minutes and then answered some general questions from the audience for another 20 minutes. There was only one plot specific question during the open Q&A. Predictably, that question was about Asmodean's condition.
Everyone had a good laugh, and RJ responded, "Asmodean is dead, dead, dead." All other questions were about RJ's writing process, his daily schedule, what he likes to read, etc.
The next hour was for the book signing. Again, 90% of the questions were about RJ's interests away from the book; his hobbies, suggestions for how to start a career in writing, and things like that.
I have only been to one other WOT book signing, about five years ago, and I thought that RJ seemed much more at ease and more talkative about himself and Harriet at this event. Maybe it was because the audience wasn't hammering away with RAFO questions. We heard several funny anecdotes about Harriet and got several tidbits of advice about life and marriage.
RJ was willing to sign anything he had written or to which he had contributed—even the illustrated guide. He signed old books brought from home as well as the new one from the store (for which they charged $31.50—what a ripoff!). By the end of the hour or so, all books had been signed (including two complete sets for two different fans) and RJ left for his birthday dinner in Philadelphia.
Yes, we did sing Happy Birthday.
Before he started signing, he said that we could take as many pictures as we liked under two conditions: 1) NO male nudity and 2) Don’t show too much of his bald spot. (That worked for me as I had no intention of the first and I have a bald spot, too.) My wife and I got our books signed and took pictures with Mr. Jordan. He talked to us for about three minutes as our teenage daughter was with us and hasn’t gotten into the series. He told her that she might like to try it because of the strong female characters. He said all the men in his family are very strong because if they weren’t the women would eat them up.
I found him to be warm, friendly, and down to earth. It was the first time I had met him. My wife met him at a signing for his last book, but I was out of town at the time. I may post some of the pictures if I didn’t break the camera. My wife hasn’t downloaded them from the memory card yet as we didn’t get home until late last night.
It was DEFINITELY worth the wait!
He showed up about ten minutes late and went through his normal pronunciation spiel looking slightly perturbed. He then reiterated the answers for what have seemed to become the most oft-asked questions this time around: Book twelve will be done when he’s finished with it, it will be last one no matter what, Infinity of Heaven is the next thing he’s doing, the two WoT prequels will be done at some point in the future, and that he’s come up with an idea for a trilogy of “outrigger” novels in the WoT world, but that he has to let it stew for a few years before he decides on doing it.
Then, probably because he arrived late, he skipped the Q&A and went straight to signing. Somewhat disappointing, as the event was billed as a Q&A / Signing, and the Q&A was the main reason I went in the first place. I would have liked to just hear him talk for a little bit.
Anyway, when he signed my books I just asked him what he thought of the Darrell K. Sweet covers, and he said they were okay, but that he has minimal input on them. Sometimes he suggests scenes, and when he gets to look at the paintings prior to publication he suggest changes, but in the end basically Tor does whatever they want with it.
A friend of mine ahead of me in line asked RJ if he would ever do any more Conan books and he said no, he only did them because he needed the money at the time. Obviously, he doesn’t need money anymore. ;^)
So that’s it. Nothing too exciting. At least I got to finally meet him after so long.
She was so friendly and said she was happy to see me. I told her I'd really been looking forward to the signing, and had brought my parents to meet them both and have their books signed. Then she said, "Jim is in the back, would you like to come say hello?" I started to say that I didn't want to bother him, but then realized I was crazy and said, "Well, I'm not going to turn that down."
Eventually I found her looking at some of the cards, and asked her if she would mind taking a photo with myself and my family. She was very nice and said that she would. We wandered around a bit more, with my mother joining us, before they called our numbers, and Harriet showed us some of the books she'd been looking at. She said she really liked Books & Co. and said that she thought it was one of the nicer stops on the tour.
They called our number and we met up with my father at the stage, and I introduced him and Harriet. We talked for a few minutes while we were waiting, about her getting to see her godson on their New York/New Jersey stop, and that I'd heard they were going to get to go to Alaska for a tour stop in 2006. She said that they had tried to combine the Alaska stop into the tour this year, but there was no way to do it without significantly modifying the tour that was already set up. So, RJ asked the tour manager "when are the salmon running?" and that decided when they would make it up to Anchorage.
After about a dozen questions, he stopped and informed us that every person thus far to ask a question was male and he was tired of answering questions from guys. He knew that there had to be some woman there who read the series and wasn't there getting her lazy boyfriend's books signed because he wouldn't get off the couch.
It did take a few moments for a woman to speak up, but speak up she did.
Don't ask. I have weird friends. :p
Here are a few pictures from the signing. JWB got there early, so we got primo spots in line. We were singing along a bit when Jordan was reiterating some of the pronunciations and announcements he's said at other signings (and have been reported here and elsewhere).
We got all four of our books signed then left. All in all it was a very satisfying and enjoyable experience, BUT, it's not over yet!
We decided since we were in the lovely city of Santa Cruz to walk around their downtown area and take in the sights. Katie and I were giddy, chatting about the signing when out of nowhere Katie says, "You're Harriet!" and stops dead. I look and sure enough Robert Jordan's wife Harriet is standing there looking surprised.
To: Les Dabel
Sent: Thursday, February 03, 2005 12:09 PM
Subject: Re: Update
Things are going pretty well for me. I'm hard at work on Knife of Dreams, closing in on the finish. It will be good to get regular updates again. It would be good to get together during Dragon-Con, but as yet, I don't know what they will be having me do or when, so I can't make any commitments. Once I find out my schedule, things will shake out.
Take care, guys. All my best, Jim
I had a rough outline of a little over 3,000 years of history before I started writing the Wheel of Time books, enough to make me feel like it was a real world where I could drop in casual mentions of historical events. Where I come from, if you want to say something was a long time ago you say it was 'Before Second Manassas'—it's a historical tag that everyone in Charleston understands. I wanted to be able to do that sort of thing with history in the world of The Wheel of Time.
The history began as a rough sketch with major points inked in. As I went along, I would sometimes look at the chart and say, "If this happened here and this happened there, something like this would probably happen here." It begins to create a real pattern of history. The readers picked up on it, realizing that there's more to the world than just what's happening in the story. The first time I got a letter asking about something like that, I thought, "God, this guy must be a fruitloop! He's talking about this as if it were real." But then it hit me. "Wait a minute, idiot. This is what you want them to feel, isn't it?" So I answered his question. A few times I've had to be fast on my feet, because I hadn't figured out something in the history that was very minor.
DragonCon has a track that follows my books, and one of the things they asked me to do was hand out the prizes at the trivia contest. In the final round these two women were up there answering questions I probably couldn't have answered without my notes. But they were just popping out the answers, ding ding ding. I never expected this incredible depth of study.
Several people have cautioned me against planning to make the June trips when I'll be having the chemo in April, but I intend to make that trip if I need a wheelchair to get on and off the airplane and a chair to sit in to fish. That is part of my commitment. No retreat, no surrender. From day one, I push back. Amyloidosis picked the wrong body to hang out in. Come late June, I'll be there in Seattle, and in Anchorage, and if I have to wear a mask, that's just fine, because I WILL be there.
Well, there are a whole slew more questions waiting in the stack, but I am going to knock off for the afternoon. Tomorrow, Harriet and I leave for Minnesota, but my younger brother Reynolds arrived night before last, my close cousin Wilson arrived yesterday afternoon, and another cousin, Tom III, is expected to arrive any moment. It will be the first time in about 25 years that all four of us have been together. We are all having dinner at a good steakhouse tonight, and I'm looking forward to it.
Some of you may be wondering why I've come out and told you so much about is going on with me. It's simple, actually. Over the years I've done my best to stomp on false rumors about my health, or about me having been hit by a bus or the like. As near as I can figure, rumor has had me dead about three times, possibly four, and near death's door at least that often. So I looked at this in two ways. One, this was all going to be a prime source of rumors once word began leaking out. And it would leak out. So I might as well start the damage control early. Two, since I had stomped all over those earlier rumors, maybe I owed it to you to come clean from the start. Between the two points, I decided I would be open. I'll post from time to time at Mayo, though I won't make promises about how often or at what length. There will be times when I'm too sick to post; that much is a given. There will be other times when what I might have to post would be nothing you care to read. I do promise that I'll try not to bore you.
So until my first post from the Mayo Clinic, you guys take care.
All my best,
I just got some mail from Brad Condray and "all the Maniacs at wotmania," pages and pages of get well messages. And never a troll in the lot of them. Thanks, guys. I can't tell you what it means. Thanks a lot.
PS Had my first chemo this morning, and though they say the side effects won't kick in for a few days, I have to say, so far, so good.
PPS I decided not to wait on my hair falling out in patches. First visit after leaving chemo was a barber shop where I told the man to take it all off except for the beard. Harriet came in shortly after he was done. And she didn't recognize me! Okay, it was from the back, but you don't think I'm going to let her forget it, do you? I'll get some pics out as soon as I can.
PPPS I was thinking, if I get a total shave and a wax job, plus a tattoo up the back of my neck (not a dragon. I'm thinking a salamander), this could be a whole new look for me.
For Steakley, if you're still hanging around, contact email@example.com, and he'll give you a direct e-mail to me. Mike Ford is arriving today, and there are some others in line, but you'd be most welcome for a few days later on. Chattacon, now. That was long ago when the world was green, now wasn't it? As I recall, I handed your clothes over to the young woman behind the front desk at the same time that I reported the possible presence of a naked and very drunk (remember that Lone Star belt buckle, about the size of a Mack Truck tire?) exceedingly drunk Texan wandering the halls of the hotel. I did learn that the Chattanooga PD had a tranquilizer-gun team for dealing with bears and the like that got into the city, and it seemed to be that you certainly qualified, but she was ratcheted to a whole new level. At least I was able to talk her out of calling the SWAT; she had been told about the previous night, John. That sort of word spreads. Neither police departments nor fire departments nor municipal zoos keep quiet in circumstances like those. She took the garments using tongs, as I remember. I thought she had returned to them to you the next morning, though that might have been a different morning and the young lady from the night before. Ah, yes; the good old days of youthful innocence, when unicorn horn went for a dollar a pound.
Harriet just leaned over my shoulder to read and said, "Huh! You were never innocent, sport. And you were smuggling unicorns."
For Lisa, Harriet and I have visited the U.K. a number of times, both for my English publisher, to do signings in addition to adding on a little site-seeing, and on our own hook. We like it a great deal.
For several people who've asked about a possible U.K. tour, or one in Ireland, you'll have to pester Time Warner (UK), my British publisher. I have toured for them, in England, Scotland and Ireland, but it happens because they want it to, not because I suggest it. I've heard rumors that I don't tour in the U.K. because I don't like to fly. That isn't true. I have so many frequent flier miles, I'll never have to buy another airline ticket once I get old.
Many thanks for their donations to the Hematologic Malignancies Program—Amyloidosis Research go to Kyla Fitzmartin,Cheryl Bush, Joanna E. Stampfel, Kristin J. Jesenko, John Smedley, Tony Ryterski, Vickie Spear and Anthony Graybosch. A million thanks, guys. Donations like your will help find a cure for this thing eventually.
For Jaime Platt and her sister, your offer touches me deeply. They were able to harvest enough of my own bone marrow stem cells that I don't need marrow donation from elsewhere, but thank you very much. That was a kind and generous offer.
Dear all: Most sincere thanks from Robert Jordan (via Harriet) go out to
Michael J. Fredericks, Jean Verney-Carron, Evan Harmon, Lisa Kirwood, Ryan Salsamendi, Emma de Laat (hello, Emma!), David Freeman, Helena Taylor and Janet Taylor
for gifts to the Mao Hematologic Malignancies Program—amyloidosis research. Thank you one and all.
Jim is taking it easy today, since we go up to the Mayo tomorrow for a routine workup -- but as a consolation prize, here is a poem of mine:
Bard: n., a full set of equine armor.
Your head seethes with essential magic,
its glittering chanfron deep and wise,
high-buffed, strong in dream and reason.
and your escutcheon shining pure.
The crinet of your glistening neck,
glides swiftly to the brazen peytral
of your great roomy chest.
On it emblazoned script in gothic flame:
Live in today, live for tomorrow.
Your flanchards bearing you in strength,
shine bright below your gleaming crupper.
And for your groin: festooned galloons,
fine textiles in a nest, and heavy gold.
All worlds flare in your burning eyes,
as soul and words bring fat new flames
to the pale page, and to my greedy heart.
Hope you enjoy it. You have all been a wonderful support for both of us.... I guess this is a little thank-you token. Best, Harriet
For Gary Bucey, hang in there, man. You can make it. I won't try to make it sound easy, because you sure as Hell know it is anything but. Just concentrate on breathing. You keep breathing and leave everything else, including worrying about everything else, to somebody else. You'll be surprised how much taking up some of that burden will help your wife, because she is undergoing her own kind of Hell right now. I know. No matter how she tried to hide it, I could see it in Harriet's eyes, in the days when we didn't know, in the days when it looked like I had no hope, just will power, and as much as she loves me, she wasn't sure my will power by itself was going to be enough. Will power really is a key. When you are sure there's nothing left, then you tell yourself, "I'm not giving up! I won't quit!" And if you have to crawl into the ring, then you by God crawl, man. You make the bell any way you can, and if you have to pull yourself to your feet by holding onto Liston's trunks, you damned well do it. I know the pain. You can beat that. You can. It is surprising how you can make friends with the pain when you have to. Somehow, it doesn't hurt so much then. It just is. But don't you give up. I expect to hear from you again. and again, for ten or twenty years to come at least. Don't disappoint me, man. Hang in, snake.
For Jerry J, you and your wife are in my payers. Once again, a post has manage to humble me. I can hardly image, with your wife undergoing multiple surgeries for malignancies, that you could spare time for a thought for me, much to make a post.
There are readers, and then there are fans. Readers offer condolences when a favorite author falls ill. Fans offer bone marrow.
Robert Jordan, author of the best-selling Wheel of Time series, has fans. And if you want to understand them, take a look at his blog. Since last spring, when he announced he had a rare blood disease called amyloidosis, Jordan, 58, has been chronicling his life-and-death struggle online. Whenever he's well enough to write, he thanks the fans who sent care packages, and those who donated to the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., where he is being treated. Then there's this:
"For Jaime Platt and her sister, your offer touches me deeply. They were able to harvest enough of my own bone marrow stem cells that I don't need marrow donation from elsewhere, but thank you very much. That was a kind and generous offer."
And you thought Harry Potter fans were enthusiastic?
Jordan's readers are offering help because they've developed a close connection with him through his books. They're also desperately hoping he lives to finish the series. Wheel of Time is like Lord of the Rings on steroids. Since Jordan launched the series in 1990, he's added another ten books, and more than 14 million copies have sold. Fans are patiently waiting for book No. 12, A Memory of Light, which Jordan promises will be the last, even if it reaches 2,000 pages.
"I've told people you might need a forklift to get it out the door," says Jordan, speaking by phone from his home in South Carolina.
But there is, of course, an elephant in the room. Amyloidosis has no cure. Untreated, the average patient lives only 12 months after diagnosis, says Dennis Krysmalski, founder and CEO of the Amyloidosis Support Network. With treatment, patients survive an average of four years.
Jordan's fans are full of sympathy, but also fright of a more personal and perhaps selfish kind. His readers have been following the lives of Rand, Egwene, Elayne, Mat, Nynaeve and Perrin for more than 16 years. Fans have shared their concerns on Web sites like Dragonmount, Theoryland and WOTmania. "Of course you wouldn't ever wish a possibly terminal disease on anyone," wrote one poster, codman25. "But what happens if he doesn't finish the book?"
It's a dangerous question. Most fans avoid posting such sentiments for fear of appearing tactless. Posters like codman25 are often chastised as insensitive by others who claim to care only for the well-being of Jordan and his family.
In the Internet age, fans can engage with a book long after they've finished it. They go online, meet other fans and participate in role-playing games. There's even a Web site profiling couples who have met and married because of the series. (One happy couple, Amber and Markku of Espoo, Finland, met in a "clan" devoted to the Wheel of Time board game.) Rabid Jordan fans know all about Harriet, his wife and editor, and they even sent her care packages when they learned he was ill.
Jordan's connection with his fans has grown even stronger since he began blogging about his illness. He has commented on his flat "behind" and opined on the virtues of Tabasco sauce. When readers asked his thoughts on death, however, Jordan, a Vietnam veteran and former atomic engineer, became more philosophical.
He reads your posts. I read them. All of them. You are all great for your caring and support. Thanks from the recesses of my soul. All of you WOT'ers are like extended family. But as family, I've got to ask that you allow RJ the time to heal. He's been extremely forthcoming with his status, and will continue to be regardless the news. But unless you've seen someone in a similar fight, you really have no idea how much of a struggle he's in. Thank God he's a stubborn ole cuss. Without that he could have easily said this is too difficult long ago and the game would have been lost.
Not that we shouldn't still be concerned about his health, because we should. But he's as fine as is possible. At the moment, he is very, very tired. Rehab is hard work. The medicines he is on can have dreadful side effects and have to monitored constantly. A slight imbalance causes all manner of issues. In his writing to you, he has glibbed over them as simply "rough patches". Rough? As fans of his writing, you'll not believe it, but he does have a talent for the understatement. Rough? I'd hate to see something Really Rough. Those who have been through something similar know what it does to you. It zaps all of your strength. That's where he is right now. His words, "I'm as weak as a kitten". The great news is that the LLC production is in check, not officially in remission, simply in check. But, his system still has to shed those that were deposited in his heart, which will take time, lots of it. Waiting is hard work too. Patience is not something that either he or I possess in great quantities. His doctors told him 6 months, maybe a year till he feels himself somewhat back to normal. We chat frequently and laugh through it as best we can. That's a big part of my job in this journey, making him smile. I found myself doing the same with our beloved Harriet this past week. She's one of the two strongest ladies I know, still the load gets heavy. Thank you for always including Harriet in your well wishes. (FYI: The other woman of strength is my other mother, aka mother in law, who is a real lady and a tiger. Wouldn't want her in the other guy's corner.) Janet and I will be with Harriet and my Brother/Cousin next weekend, and all involved can hardly wait. We haven't seen them since Labor Day, too long.
Physically he's a long way from being the man that many of you have met at events. But were you to speak to him via telephone, you'd not know that anything was going on. The voice on the phone is strong and resolute. Lord I love him for that, among many other things. But, he has to follow the advise of his doctors, do as Harriet says (we all answer to someone) and be patient, and careful to allow for his recovery to continue. Thus, we'll need you to be patient too. Hang in there gang. The Dragon is tired and may be dragging, but he is winning.
Wilson Brother/Cousin 4th of 3
I don't know exactly why the calendar contest is being limited to US residents. It is something the legal department insisted on. Now, if it was me, and I lived in Canada or Finland or somewhere, I might just take a chance that they wouldn't look too closely at the return address. Or maybe I'd ask Justin to be a cut-out for me. But that's just me. I would never suggest that any of you do these things. No. Never. Wouldn't be prudent.
Many people have given gifts to Hematologic Malignancies Program—amyloidosis research since the last time I thanked anyone. For donations since then, my thanks go out to Virginia A. Schomp and Chip Bigness, Mrs. Janna Kamenetsky, Mr. Tony Witherspoon, Mr. Ryan Breen, Mr. Nathan Chu, Mr. Todd Lyons, Ms. Kathleen D. Moore, Mr. Doug Carrithers, Mrs. Deborrah M. Kozel, Ms. Melissa Craib and Friends at TarValon.net, Mr. Eric Selby, Mrs. Carolyn Goodwin, Dr. Chris O'Sullivan, Mr. Georgy Kantor, Mr. Andrew Childs, Mr. Doug Peters, Mr. Scott Dimick, Ms. Pam Harley and the Hattie Mae Lesley Foundation. Thank you very much, one and all.
To be honest, I don't exactly remember what my first reaction to that gut-wrenching statement was. I remember being worried for Harriet, and I remember being sad for Wilson because I could hear how upset he was on the phone, but in that infinitesimal moment when the words first sink in, I think I felt a wide array of emotions. There was sadness, of course, and shock, because we had just received good news in the previous blog entry, but there was also ... what? Disappointment? It would be a lie to say that I wasn't heartsick at the thought that RJ wouldn't be finishing the final volume in The Wheel of Time. Most of you I'm sure, felt it too. Just as he was honest with us until the end, so I will be honest here. I think we're all sad, and at least a tiny bit frustrated, by not having A Memory of Light completed in the way we wanted and hoped for.
Before you think poorly of me, hear me out. Obviously, we can't blame RJ for that. To do so is to show a lack of understanding of the way he worked and the way he fought this disease. Amyloidosis is a brutal disease and nobody could fight as hard as Jim Rigney. His blog is a testament to his fight and his dedication. He proved to us, right here, that he was Aiel to the core: "Till shade is gone, till water is gone, into the Shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit in Sightblinder's eye on the Last Day." I don't think there could be a stronger statement that defined RJ's fight with the disease. When I say I was frustrated, it lasted only a fraction a second. It is, in part, our ability to overcome our negative emotions that makes us human to begin with. I took that frustration and fed it to the flame, and let the void surround me. There was work to be done, fans to be notified, and questions to be answered.
Thus began a three-day adventure that I'll never forget.
A quick note: For those of you who may not know, Robert Jordan was a pen name used by James ("Jim") Rigney. Jim is survived by his wife Harriet, his step-son Will, his brother Reynolds, and a full host of cousins, nephews, nieces, second-cousins-twice-removed, and more. A few people have asked me who Wilson is, and what a "Brother/Cousin, 4th of 3" means. Indeed, it sounds like a bizarre mix of the Borg, southern genealogy, and the even stranger Aiel relationships, but it's actually quite simple. Wilson is Jim's first cousin and they have always been very close, so close in fact that they considered one another brothers. So, that's where Wilson's use of the term "Brother/Cousin" comes from. The "4th of 3" refers to the fact that Jim was one of 3 brothers (Ted, the third brother, passed away a few years ago) and Wilson was considered the "4th" brother in that family.
Jim lived in Charleston, South Carolina, in a beautiful old home that's been in Harriet's family since the 1930's. One of the kindest gestures I received this week was having Wilson say that I would be welcome there, and at Jim's funeral.
On Sunday evening, I posted the news of RJ's passing several hours after it occurred. Wilson sent me the brief write up that you've all read by now. Within minutes, the Dragonmount.com server began to see an unusually large increase in traffic. Within an hour, the site had slowed to a crawl. By the following morning, it was nearly impossible to get to RJ's blog. Initial reports run by the DM admins on the server at the time suggested an increase of traffic of about 250-300 times the normal amount. We estimated that it would take about 120 extra CPU's to fully handle all of the requests coming in at every moment. The DM server is brand-new, still cutting edge, but with the kind of numbers we were seeing, all we could do was try to keep the website stable.
The next morning I found myself on a plane flying from California to South Carolina. I grabbed a rental car and set off to drive to Robert Jordan's house. Let me pause here a moment and say that again: I was driving to Robert Jordan's house! If you're as much of a fan-boy as I am (and I know there are A LOT of you who are AT LEAST as big a fan as I am of his books), it would be a wild and crazy thing to think of going to the Creator's house and seeing where the books were written. Less than a week ago, such a thing would have seemed ridiculous to me. South Carolina is so far away. The closest I had ever come to visiting the Deep South before this trip was watching Gone with the Wind, and attending DragonCon in downtown Atlanta a few years ago, a decidedly different experience than visiting Charleston.
Jim once told me that he lived in the Two Rivers and suggested I check a map. I never had his mailing address though, and I couldn't exactly Google it, could I? But now, having been there, I can tell you that he wasn't kidding. He lives in the Two Rivers! Charleston proper is situated on a peninsula. The two bodies of water on either side of the peninsula are rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper. Jim and Harriet are very near the tip of the peninsula where these two rivers collide. They're deep in the Two Rivers. You might say they live as deep into their Two Rivers district as Emond's Field is in its own.
All of the homes in this area are old historical buildings, usually three, maybe four stories tall, with the well-known pillars and balconies that define the architecture of the southern United States. Jim and Harriet's home was completed in 1795. As I drove up their street, looking for the right house number, I saw a large white gate, and knew that I'd arrived. Carved into the gates are two large, sinuous creatures with five fingers on each claw. The symbol of the Dragon used in the books. I had found it.
That Tuesday evening when I arrived was filled with so many amazing memories. I'll never forget it. First, I want you all to know that I found Harriet very quickly (or rather, she found me) and I let her know (on behalf of myself and all of you) that I was sincerely sorry for her loss. Her way of replying was to give me a warm smile, look me in the eyes, and say, "For you as well." Harriet is an amazing woman. You've heard RJ say it over and over again, but this week I saw it for myself. A southern lady to the core, Harriet is the essence of grace, with an easy manner that makes you feel like an old friend the moment you meet her, and an air of poise that belied her grief as she comforted others. Her eyes are warm and gentle, and sparkling with intelligence and wit. Oftentimes, I saw her with tears glistening in those lovely eyes, but she had just as many smiles to give to the rest of us. More, actually. She sang and clapped her heart out. She laughed with, and hugged, and kissed everyone who came to visit. I was welcomed into her home as part of the family this week, and cannot find the words to express how humbled and honored I am to have been included. By welcoming me, she and the rest of Jim's family welcomed us all as a unified collection of fans. Have no doubt that you were all there with us that evening.
A bit about RJ's home. God, where to begin? Every wall is covered in artwork, most of it paintings. There are some photographs, but by and large those were only present at desks or set in a frame under a lamp. The parlor has several floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with nothing except all the various editions of The Wheel of Time. It seemed as though every edition for each book was there and all of the translations. I'm six and a half feet tall and I would need a ladder to get to the upper shelves. If you have seen the book [?], then you've seen the large, antique dragon chair that RJ owned. It's pretty darn scary up close. It sits near the bookcases like a guardian ready to spring at the unwary critic. The effect, however, was a bit ruined by the fluffy pillows and blankets draped across it. :)
As wondrous as the house itself is, the most exciting place to visit is, of course, the place where it all happened, the carriage house. This is where RJ wrote all of his books. Inside is a library of over 16,000 books (yes, you read that right) and at least several hundred bladed weapons. Swords, axes, spears, and knives of all shapes and sizes line the walls and shelves of his office. Both the upstairs and downstairs areas are jam-packed with this stuff. It was like walking into a used bookstore that also happened to sell weapons, smoking pipes, and funky hats. I guess RJ liked to wear different hats when he wrote. Not just the ones you saw him wear on tour or in publicity photos, but wacky Viking helmets or jester hats. Who knew? Maybe it helped him get into all the different characters. Maria, one of his assistants, seemed to think he did it just to keep them all laughing, or guessing about his sanity.
One other thing about the carriage house is that it was filled with gifts sent to him by fans. There were sketches, paintings, sculptures, plaques, and other memorabilia that he had received over the years from people who loved his work. It was pretty clear that he treasured those things. So, if you were ever a fan who sent in letters or gifts, be assured that he received them. I also received confirmation that he read every single letter written to him over the years. Clearly, he did not always have time to reply to them all, but he read every one and it meant a lot to him.
Okay, one last carriage house story, then I'll move on. While I was there, the temptation to sit down at his desk, in his chair, at his computer, became overwhelming. I noted at the time how strange it was to be feeling as though this act were sacrilegious. Of course, I meant no disrespect. I just wanted to sit at the place where these books had been written. As I eased myself into the chair, I was overcome by a profound sense of excitement and sadness. I could feel his presence and his eyes on me in this place where he poured out so much of himself through his writing. The screen was dark as my fingers hovered over the keyboard, aching to touch the letters. I typed the word "RAND", just a silly attempt to mimic the strokes that keyboard had seen countless times before. The computer screen, which a moment before had been a dark sentinel guarding its Master's desk, suddenly sprang to life from sleep mode and beeped loudly at me. I damn near jumped out of my skin! I vaulted from that chair as if the Dark One himself were in pursuit and fled with the distinct realization that there were a lot of sharp swords and scary masks watching my hasty retreat!
That same Tuesday night while we were outside, Wilson pointed out to me that even though we were in the downtown area of a major city, if you closed your eyes and listened, all you could hear were crickets. Our beloved RJ lived in a slice of heaven, my friends. You probably have heard him speak of how much he loved that city, and I can now see why. Look at these photos and the lush jungle of greenery that surrounded him. I have little doubt that the trees and landscape of his home helped him to imagine the Green Man and the Nym, the Ogier Groves, and the eternal forests in dreams where wolves hunt and dreamwalkers dwell. It was here in his Stedding, beneath the trees and a canopy of stars that I stayed late into the night, sharing stories with Jim's friends and family and letting the peace of the warm southern evening pass through me.
The following morning I arrived back at the house early. Even after the warm welcome the night before, I was amazed to find myself seated at the breakfast table with the members of his immediate family. (Somebody invited me to sit in Jim's chair, but I hastily declined because of my last adventure with one of his chairs. The walls of the dining room were covered in paintings of Jim and I felt them "giving me the eye.") The newspaper reports were rolling in and we all read them. One of them... the London Times, perhaps?... even used the term "Randland". Ha ha ha! I got a great chuckle from seeing that term used in a major newspaper.
Shortly after breakfast, I found myself helping out by doing dishes. Washing dishes is a soothing task for me, so I find that I do it quite often. (My wife thinks I'm crazy, but she never complains.) Also, I figured that, had any of you been there, you probably would have done the same thing. Jim has given so much to us that doing a simple chore like washing plates on the day of his funeral was an easy task to do. It also helped pass a little time before going to the church.
The funeral took place at St. Stephen's in Charleston. It's a small church with a simple and glorious beauty. Jim's ashes were on a pedestal in front of the altar. In addition to family and friends, I saw some fans who had come to pay their respects. Among them was Melissa Craib, the founder of TarValon.net. I was glad for her presence as she was someone I knew well, but more than that, I was glad she was there because she was another fan. Jim would have wanted her there. Melissa has already written up a report on the funeral. You can read it here.
Tom Doherty, the founder and president of Tor Books, gave the eulogy. He said Jim was one of the greatest storytellers of the 20th century, and that he believed time would show the same was true for the 21st century. I couldn't agree more. Whether or not you like the books, regardless if you're frustrated by their size or pace, I think we could all agree that the sheer majesty and scope of the Wheel of Time series is unparalleled. Simply put, it's the longest, and perhaps the most accessible, epic fantasy saga today.
By the way, I had the amazing fortune to be able to talk at length with Tom D. over the course of my visit. Tom is a man whose experience and insight into publishing is eclipsed only by his warmth and kindness, and his love for Jim and Harriet. If that sounds overly sugary, I assure you it isn't. I would be hard pressed to meet another man as kind and attentive as Tom.
Harriet's son, Will, Jim's brother, Reynolds, and Wilson all spoke at the funeral. Wilson read a truly moving essay that touched me deeply. I'll post a copy of it soon.
In the end, the most amazing part of the funeral was the singing. Now, I won't claim that we had the most talented vocalists in attendance, but what the congregation might have lacked in talent, it more than made up for in spirit. And that is what we sang, spirituals. Songs with roots that run deeply through the southern experience and blossom at need to replenish the hearts of the grieving and remind them of the hope that lays in faith. At one point, the church was bursting with song. I remember looking up as we raised our voices to heaven, and I thought of all of you fans who were not present. I thought of how, with the people above in upper balconies and the white walls, this must be a little what it's like to be in the White Tower for assemblies. The songs rose into the air, and together we sang Jim's spirit into heaven, and into one another, and around the world.
I should mention that Harriet wore one of Jim's hats to church. You know those wide-brimmed hats he wore on tour? (Not at all dissimilar to a hat worn by a certain ta'veren gambler.) Well, Harriet was sporting one of those very stylishly and it choked me up to see her wearing it.
Following the funeral was a reception where everyone could mingle and chat. I had met many of the people there the night before, but this became an opportunity to meet even more folks, and go deeper into conversation with those I had already spoken with. Many fond memories of Jim were shared. Aside from being a famous author, the fact that so many people would attend his funeral and have nothing but good things to say about him speaks volumes about the kind of man he was. I had come to Charleston for Robert Jordan's funeral, seeking a chance to say good-bye to a well-beloved author. What I actually found after three days with his family and friends was so much more than I could ever have imagined. I was gifted with the opportunity to learn about Jim Rigney, the man, a far more fascinating person than Robert Jordan could ever be.
I spent the few hours between the funeral and the burial touring downtown Charleston and mingling at the reception. Harriet's cousin, Harriet (yes, another Harriet), and her husband George were gracious and gave me a tour of downtown Charleston. I was able to learn a bit about the city and places Jim used to frequent. Most notably, I saw the Yacht Club where he was a member. One thing that strikes me about a place like Charleston is how much HISTORY there is everywhere you go, and how people here know their ancestry back multiple generations. Harriet and George told me that they were instructed when they were young to "know the maiden name of all four of your great-grandmothers." I was only able to come up with one of them. I promised George that I'd research the other three and get back to him! Many of you are wiser than I am and already know this lesson, but for those who don't know it yet, I humbly offer it here. Take the time to learn about your roots! Know who your family was and how you ultimately came to be. Most of our personal histories are still passed through oral tradition. So, take the time at some point in your life to know those who came before you and pass the information on to those who follow. This is clearly a lesson Jim learned early in his life, or maybe had bred into him from the start. These histories will help complete you and may even spark creativity or insight that you didn't know was there before.
The final stage of Jim's funeral was his burial. Once again I was humbled by the family's invitation to attend this very private affair. We buried him out in the country, and I say "we" now because it was made clear to me numerous times by different people that I was an honorary member of the family, a distinction that I kindly extended to all of you in spirit. Harriet dropped rose petals into the grave with her son Will by her side. At one point, she was presented with a folded United States flag as is traditional at the burial of a U.S. veteran. The men in Jim's family; Reynolds, Will, Tom Jones, and Wilson, all placed the dirt on top of him; an eternal blanket to keep him for the Ages.
The church where he was buried was completed in 1785 and has had continuous services since then. Jim and Harriet were married there. His grave is next to that of several family members who preceded him and Harriet told me that one day she would rest next to him at the same site. Prayers were read, songs were sung, and tears were shed. This was, by far, the hardest moment for me personally. Despite the sadness of those present, you could see the deep bonds of family coming together to support each other. The Rigneys, like your family, like mine... are just that: a group of people who have discovered that together they are greater than the sum of their individual members. I saw Jim's family brought together by his life. Like any other family, I'm sure they have problems and disagreements, but the strength in their love for one another is evident when they gather together. These were the people who loved him, and I'm proud to have stood with them as your representative.
While the tears flowed, and the bagpiper from the Citadel played his mournful tune, I saw something radiant which made me smile. A little baby, only a few months old with beautiful eyes, was looking directly at me. I snapped a photo of her because here was a sign of new life and promise among the cold stones and the earth. Here was someone that Jim probably cherished in his last months and would have wanted the world for. The Wheel of Time turns...
Towards the end, when most of the family was finished with their farewells, I took a moment to sit before Jim's grave. I tried to recall that first excitement I had when I read The Eye of the World thirteen years ago. I offered a bit of that feeling to him, so that the joy of having read his books might stay with him for a while as he rests. Once again I thought of all of you and told him how much we all loved him. I thanked him for the gift of his books, and I bade him farewell.
I remembered the previous times I met Jim (when he was on book tour). I would always see him and think "Wow! That man right there is Perrin and Mat and Elayne and Loial, and Asmodean and Elaida and everyone else all made flesh." I would imagine that by shaking his hand I would be shaking all of their hands. As the burial approached, I had expected to feel a similar thing when he was buried. I expected to feel as though we were laying all of those characters into the ground, but that never happened. I realized that these characters and events are very much alive and present. Go into any bookstore and Mat is as alive and witty as ever. Rand will always be his charming and...uh...moody... self. The Forsaken will always be a threat. Jim gave these characters life, but we sustain them, and that is what I truly believe applies to the living as well. We live life in order to interact and be with others. By sharing a bit of yourself with another person you connect with them on a deeper level. There is energy within and between us all. Life, God, or the True Source, whatever you want to call it, is what I think we're here for, or so I felt at that particular moment at the foot of Robert Jordan's grave.
Jim had wanted a certain song to be played at his funeral, Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. For some reason it wasn't possible to do it, so after most people had left the burial ground, Mary, Harriet's cousin whom Jim had treated and loved like a daughter, loaded the CD up in Jim's Porsche and cranked it up. The music evoked a sense of sadness laced with hope and the promise of salvation.
Oh, and, by the way, I got to ride in that Porsche on the way home. Jim bought it for himself when he became the New York Times #1 best-seller for the first time. (Book 8, I think). He told me a couple of years back via e-mail that "it handles like it's on rails." Indeed, it did.
The rest of Wednesday was spent back at the house. Once again, I walked through the carriage house, this time taking photos. (The swords and hats no longer seemed angry with me for sitting in his chair.) Wilson took me upstairs in the main house where I saw the original painting of the cover from The Dragon Reborn. This is the one for which Harriet asked the painter to remove Ishamael's face. I also was able to see Jim's numerous war medals, and those of his father.
The evening went on, and night fell. My flight for home left the next morning at 6 AM (yuck). Making my farewells was hard, as I had genuinely come to enjoy everyone's company so much. I felt like I was leaving the Winespring Inn in the Two Rivers. Several of the ladies wanted to make sure I had had enough to eat, and a few of the gentlemen wanted to be certain I had all my travel arrangements in place. On both of my back-to-back nights leaving Jim's house, I walked away with a plate full of food. I now know what the term "southern hospitality" means.
I could not possibly write about all of the conversations I had during my time in Charleston. There were so many of them, and much of what was said was somewhat private in nature. Mostly, conversations were about everyday things, but the WoT geek in me was curious, and so I poked around. I can tell you this much: nothing about the plot of the final novel was revealed to me. I'm no closer to the identity of Asmodean's killer than you are. (Although, come on people, it's been 15 years. You should know by now. Go read the WoT FAQ. When I suggested to Maria who I thought it was she gave me a "Don't-even-go-there" look.) What I do know about A Memory of Light is that we need to give everyone time to figure out what's going to happen with it next. Wilson has already revealed previously on RJ's blog that Jim left some pretty detailed notes on what would happen. He, Harriet, and presumably Maria and the other assistants, all know the endings and secrets. There are both written notes and audio recordings of Jim saying what happened. (Wouldn't it be cool to have that audio published with the final novel someday? Tor, are you listening?) How or when we'll see A Memory of Light in published form needs to be worked out. Jim's death is too recent and the wounds it left too raw to his family to say when the last volume will be completed. Time will provide us with the book we want, and the conclusion the series deserves. We just have to be patient.
Speaking of conclusions, so ends my adventure. Although, as Jim has told us eleven times before, there are no beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel. I hope this gave you even a little taste of what it was like. I'll never forget those days at Jim and Harriet's house. I am saddened by our loss, and at the same time, overjoyed by the opportunity I was given. I wish each of you could have seen the bookshelves, felt the grip of the swords, and heard the crickets. And the music. Wow... the music especially will stay with me forever. The Tinkers and Ogier need look no further for their songs than the ones we sang to Jim Rigney when we gave him to the earth.
I'll end with this beautiful quote that was printed on the back of Jim's prayer card at the funeral. I have a bunch of them and I'll figure out a way to give them away to some of you. The other fans at the funeral may have already posted them. The quote reads as follows. I have it burned into my memory.
"He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone."
Thank you Jim, for touching my life, and the lives of all those reading this and beyond. We will miss you so.
In loving memory, and on behalf of all those reading this, I remain,
No. When I started this series, there were only two commonly used means of publishing: a single book or a trilogy. I, however, told my publisher: this won’t be a trilogy, but a series of at least four or five volumes, possibly even six. At that time I knew the overall content of the story, I knew what events I wanted to put in them and also had the final completely ready-made in my head. But I soon discovered that I could fit much less in the first book than I thought. That first book was actually supposed to hold the story of The Great Hunt and at least a part of The Dragon Reborn. At that point, I though: “Okay, it will probably be six or seven books.” Exactly the same thing happened to the second book. At this point, I no longer dare make predictions how long the series will eventually become. It will end sometime, I swear, but I don’t know when exactly that will be.
Sending an email through a website like mine can be kind of a nebulous process. You click send, get a little "Thank you for your email!" response on the screen, then wonder where the little bits of data have flown off to.
Here's how it goes. Whenever someone sends to me, I get an email sent directly to my inbox. It gets filtered into a special folder. I usually read the email the same day it was sent, but I don't often have time to respond immediately. Instead, I try to answer the emails in the order I got them.
At various times, I have 'email overload' where I have trouble getting responses to everyone who has sent to me. One of these times, as you might imagine, came in December following the Wheel of Time announcement. I got hundreds and hundreds of emails that week, and felt them pile up.
However, lately I've been doing fairly well. My response time for emails is about six weeks—however, I had an overload February-April, and so very few emails got answered through there. I still hope to get to those someday. . . .
Anyway, if you've sent me reader mail, know that I'm answering emails from the first week in August right now. So it may be a little while before you hear from me, but you SHOULD hear eventually. (Unless book tour wipes me out again . . . )
As for forum going, I'm still on forum hiatus. I'm too tempted by forums, and don't want to get drawn into long discussions when I should be writing A Memory of Light. I plan to return eventually. Until then, know that the best way to get hold of me is via email or posting on my LJ. I plan to do a Q&A on my own forum come October, kind of a 'virtual book signing' for anyone who hangs out there. (Also, we're working on getting a new moderator for my forums to keep an eye on things there.) I appreciate all of you who populate the forums and post such interesting thoughts and speculations; I do want to be able to respond to you in the future, but right now I'm just swamped.
Dragon*Con was awesome. I was so busy the entire time that I barely had time to think, but I have to say that the Wheel of Time fans are just about the coolest people ever. I loved hanging out with all the folks from Tar Valon.net, Dragonmount, Theoryland, and the rest of you. (I know that there were others.) Also, those of you who killed me during the game of Who's a Darkfriend are going to pay some day.
I'd never been to Dragon*Con before, and it was . . . well, it was what I'd always thought a Con would be before I started attending other ones. Costumes, craziness, lots of paneling and things to do, and a whole ton of fun. High points for me were the WoT costume contest, dinner with Melissa and the group from Tar Valon, my reading (which was WAY better attended than my Worldcon one), and an extremely relaxing and engaging dinner spent chatting with Pat Rothfuss.
"I'll be perfectly honest: When I heard the news, my first thought was of the big loss of someone extraordinary," recalled Sanderson. "My second thought was . . . he was working on the last book, would we ever get to see it?"
His sentiment was echoed by many on "Wheel of Time" fan sites across the Internet, and soon Sanderson found himself becoming a topic on those sites.
"I'm relatively unknown as an author; I've only been published for a couple of years," Sanderson said. "I did not know I was being considered."
Indeed, the most prominent question on fan sites such as seemed to be: Who is Brandon Sanderson?
That question was met head-on by Sanderson as he began interacting with "Wheel of Time" fans both live and on the Web, and taking the time to introduce himself to those who were still new to his work.
"Overall, I'm absolutely thrilled that Brandon is the man for the job," exclaimed Jason Denzel, site founder of Dragonmount.com. "It's as if they picked the most talented fan they could find and handed him the series to finish."
As confident as Denzel and the rest of the fans on his website have become in Sanderson, they admit that there remains a trickle of skepticism.
"The thing that we haven't seen yet, and whether or not it can be pulled off, is if this book is going to feel like someone else wrote it or as if Robert Jordan wrote it himself," said Denzel. "Our biggest worry is whether or not it's going to have the feel of the rest of the series."
With best wishes, I remain,
[in black pen Jordan wrote in script at the bottom, "P.S. Good luck with the club and the newsletter. Please keep me informed as to how things are going. I'd also love to see copies of the newsletter. I must say I am very impressed with your maturity and your skills. In short, I'm impressed with you. RJ"]
I'm gearing up to dive back into the Wheel of Time next month. To those of you who only check the blog for WoT news, I appreciate your patience with me. I do try to incorporate things into the blog directed at you. I'm sorry there isn't more of it. This is partially because of the strict nondisclosure agreement I'm under. I fear saying much of anything because of how good the WoT community is at pulling meaning out of casual statements. And they're right a shocking amount of the time. So I've held myself back. That, unfortunately, means I often end up posting things like this:
"Gearing up to write the next WoT section; emailing Mr. Jordan's assistants about clarifications on some issues. Can't say which ones. Sorry."
That was posted to my Twitter/Facebook earlier today. (And note, if you're starved for posts, know that I do update my Twitter and Facebook pretty much every day. You can read them on my main blog too; check the left-hand sidebar on the blog page.) Anyway, I don't post such vague things to be annoying or teasing. I just feel compelled by Mr. Jordan and Harriet's wishes to restrain myself. If I tell you what I'm asking about, you'll be able to guess what I'm working on—and from that can guess what is in the second book, and from there guess the contents of the first book. Perhaps I'm too paranoid. But once the first book is out and you all know its contents, I'll let myself be more open about what is in the second book in posts and tweets.
Recently, I've found myself thinking a lot about the years when I was simply another Wheel of Time fan. This is likely due to the coming release of The Gathering Storm, which will be the first WoT book that I don't get to experience with the rest of the world as it is released. That puts me in a strange position.
Actually, a lot of things about this project put me in a strange position. I've become the most direct face of the Wheel of Time, with my blogging and appearances. Because of that I find myself (by design) being an advocate for the series, rather than a commentator on the series. There's a distinction there. It's no longer my place, for instance, to offer criticism on the cover art. Perhaps some would call it two-faced of me to avoid discussion of things in the series that perhaps deserve criticism; I just feel that it is my job to stand in Mr. Jordan's place, as best I can, and be respectful of his memory and the responsibility I've been given.
Still, despite this, I do find myself remembering the days when I was just a fan. I went through all of the typical WoT fandom emotions. There were times when I tore through the books, rereading them voraciously, loving every page. And yes—though I don't now talk about it often—there were times when I was annoyed with the WoT. The speed at which the series was released, the quirks of Mr. Jordan's language, the times he focused on a side character I didn't want to read about.
There would be times when I would reread through all the books—taking months and months—in order to read a new volume that just came out. And then the next one would take just long enough to come out that I'd have forgotten the details of the books. I'd feel mentally fatigued and think, "What do I do? Do I spend all of that time reading again, or do I try to read the new one without a refresher on who is who, and perhaps lose some important threads?" During those times, I would think, "Why am I subjecting myself to this? This series is overhyped."
And then I'd read the books and remember what I'd forgotten. Not just the names and plot threads; the love and the thrill of a purely majestic epic fantasy.
The Wheel of Time is one of the few series I read a lot when I was younger that made the transition to adulthood with me. Other authors—good authors—weren't able to write for both the youthful Brandon and the adult Brandon. But Jordan could do it. There is something very special about these books. I think you'll find it again when you dig back into the Wheel of Time for what is happening in October, whether you decide to read the entire series (I suggest at least reading Knife of Dreams again) or just grab The Gathering Storm.
Still, I guess I'm posting about this to say, "I understand. I don't feel it's right for me to agree with you most of the time when you complain. But I do understand. I've been there." I understand that some are annoyed at there being three books instead of one, I understand that some are excited about getting three books, and I understand that most of you probably feel both annoyed and excited at the same time. (This series does that to people.) I understand what it's like to defend the Wheel of Time vigorously to friends, but then find yourself saying, "I think I'll wait to read the rest of them until the thing is finally done" to other friends later in the week. I've been there. I have a friend who—each time Mr. Jordan's name was mentioned—used to raise his fist to the sky and curse. Partially in jest, partially to express his fascination and frustration at the same time. I empathized with him a lot.
But I've read the ending now. It works. It fits. A journey like this one hinges a lot on the destination. And that destination turned out to be everything I wanted it to be.
Some of you haven't ever felt these feelings; you've loved the WoT the entire time, and haven't felt a bit of frustration. Some of you have only recently discovered the series, and wonder what the fuss and frustration is about in those of us who have been reading for nearly twenty years now. To you who are like I was, I just say this. Give yourself a chance to discover the books again, and you'll remember what this is all about.
Finally, progress on Towers of Midnight is continuing at a fair pace. As always, there are sections that turn out beautifully and sections that don't. (The latter get thrown away and rewritten, the former get kept and rewritten. That's just how this goes.) I'm feeling very good about my deadlines on this one. It's going to be tight, but I think you'll get it next year as planned.
One of the things I felt could be improved on from The Gathering Storm is my use of names. Robert Jordan had a distinctive way of using names, and I think that some of my names for the book didn't quite hit the right mark. We're talking about very minor things—people who are named and don't appear, or maybe who speak one line or another. Anyone more major than that generally had a name already (or if they didn't, I pulled a name from one of Mr. Jordan's unused names files).
The thing is, a good epic fantasy like this uses dozens and dozens of new names in a book. I wanted to take a stab at approaching the naming in the way Mr. Jordan did. During my very first ride with Harriet, coming back from the airport two years ago to her home in Charleston, I remember her talking about some of Mr. Jordan's names. One came from a street we passed, another from a person he knew, and another from a word he saw on a sign. His goal was to hint at our world far in the future—or perhaps far in the past—by giving occasional hints to our world through legend, story, song, and name. Hence we get names like Thom or Artur, which are direct adaptations of names from our world.
Therefore, for Towers of Midnight I've been using a list of names from our world as inspiration. I chose the list of donors for the charity event that TarValon.net did last spring, and I've been posting the names on Twitter and Facebook as I choose them. So if you're curious about this, you can watch and see who gets chosen. I'm certain someone out there is keeping a list of them all as well. (I've got one here, and may post it eventually.)
I don't want to make it seem like I'm playing favorites or soliciting praise in order to get people into the Wheel of Time, and so for now I'm using this list ONLY. If we decide to do another charity event, I'll let you know. If you don't want to find out about the names, I won't post them here on the blog, but those who do wish to know can follow along. Remember, these are very small characters, often just mentioned by name but not seen. I'm adapting all the names, so the name I post is not what will appear in the book—it's just the inspiration for what will appear.
Still, I think it will make some people very happy and will allow me to try a method that Robert Jordan used in making these books. Perhaps it wasn't so conscious for him as it is for me, but one of my duties in writing these novels is to try—to the best of my abilities—to maintain the proper feel of the Wheel of Time. I think this will help. We'll see; I've got Harriet and Team Jordan backing me up, and so if any of the names stand out to them, they'll vanish and get replaced with something more appropriate.
(And, as I've said before, remember that the Wheel of Time turns, and people are constantly spun in and out of the Pattern. Those who are alive today could very well live again during the Third Age, and so it's not so odd at all for people who loved these books during our time to get pulled into Rand's ta'veren web and spun out again during the events of the Last Battle. . . .)
Right: It's like breathing. It's not like I sat down and said, "oh, I should mention the blogs." It's just what I do, because it's there—it's hard to say why or why not, because it's obvious that you should do it.
It is true that Robert Jordan was of a different age. I've tried to respect that, particularly because Harriet is of that era, too, and she's very worried about spoilers on the internet and so forth—and I think rightly so. I might be a little too open, or a little too free with some of these things. I've tried to run more of a balance, and to give fewer spoilers. To talk about the process with people, but not tell people what's going to happen, or what specifically is going on with the plot.
So, Jason is on Tor.com again, talking trash and showing off the huge numbers of cards he's been lent to build the perfect deck to kill me.
If you're not aware of what's going on, tomorrow after my San Jose signing, I'll be having an epic set of Magic: The Gathering games against Jason Denzel (who runs Dragonmount, a Wheel of Time fan website). Read what he's said here and here.
I haven't posted a lot about this because . . . well, I just haven't had time. I've been running, city to city, signing books. In fact, I can only do this update because my plane is delayed in Portland for half an hour.
Now, reading those articles, Jason would have you believe that he's the underdog in this competition. He's been trying very hard to get your sympathy. And, well, some of the things he says may be true. Yes, I have more experience in the game than he does. But remember, I've put a severe limitation on myself in the form of requiring myself to use only cards I've been given by fans on the tour, so I can't reach into my extensive back stock of cards to build the perfect deck.
What are my thoughts? Well, I think it will be fun. But I am also so exhausted from the tour I can barely think most of the time. And the match will happen after the last day of the tour, following two signings on the same day, with me having gotten very little sleep on average across the last four weeks.
In other words, this is going to be by no means an easy win. Jason has been lent thousands of cards to augment his card stable. He's going to have very good decks, and I'm going to be so tired I won't be able to remember what day it is, let alone how many lands to put in my deck.
But I'm still confident. Confident, at least, that this will be a fun time. We'll set up a streaming video of the match, so watch the updates on my Facebook and Twitter accounts to get the url. Also, I feel it's my duty to let you know that Jason has been trying to CHEAT LIKE A DOG (asking Storm Leaders to steal or hide my cards, maybe give him clues as to what I'll be playing).
So I figure I'll just tell him. Here are the decks I'll be running:
1. A WoT-themed deck given me by a fan. I'll play it as-is. It's white, with lots of cards that they've written on and named after characters. Quite amusing.
2. A deck built from the Zendikar and other packs given me by the wonderful WoT fans. I've built this one out of the cards you've given me, and it's got 95% cards from Zendikar. Multicolor.
3. A deck sponsored by Joseph-Beth Booksellers using only cards given me by Brian, the Joseph-Beth sci-fi guy. Multicolor.
4. If there's time, a deck built from several other complete decks given me by fans on the tour.
I actually don't have these completely put together yet. I was hoping to do that today at the hotel . . . though this delay is going to make that harder. Either way, tune in tomorrow night to see what happens.
I frequently encounter things that make me laugh out loud. WoT fans are an extremely clever bunch. Once, at Wotmania, someone joined using Harriet's name. That person made a lovely post that included the (false) info that Talmanes was a Darkfriend (I have a crush on Talmanes. Not as big as the Mat crush, but . . .). There have also been many posts regarding Bela that tickled my funnybone (Is she the Creator? A Darkfriend? The Neigh'blis?). And somewhere recently I saw someone aver that it stated flat-out in the text who murdered Asmodean; it had just been transcribed inaccurately. According to this poster, Asmodean didn't say "You? No!"; he said "Uno!" And Leigh Butler's reread posts generally make me laugh out loud as well. It's rare for me to go a-lurking and not lol at some point.
'YouNo' lol. That's brilliant. And I guess it means I don't have to ask the tedious 'who killed Asmodean' question and we can just move on into the fan stuff.
Yes! And the big thing about fantasy is that you can address questions of good and evil without making people run for cover and thinking, "Oh my God, he's going to turn into a preacher any minute now." But, making his great theme of making decisions without enough information is so true.
And, his early fan letters, I noticed, would come from two large categories of adult: people in law enforcement and people in medicine: doctors, nurses, policemen, district attorneys. What do these groups have in common? They're making life and death decisions, every day, without enough information. The policeman, should he draw his weapon? If so, he will probably be shot at himself. The doctor, dealing with a person who is dying, and you never have enough information.
McDougal had gone on tour many times with her husband, where she says she "just lurked in the back." Sometimes she would find a book to read in the store they were visiting, get through a chapter, then continue reading with another copy in the next town. Every now and again people would track her down and ask, "Are you Harriet? Would you sign my book?"
With Rigney gone, McDougal found herself front and center at The Gathering Storm events. "The tour was amazing," she says. "It was awful to be out there without my husband. At the same time, people were so kind. They said, 'Thank you for finishing the series. Thank you for Robert Jordan.'"
The Wheel of Time fans are very vocal and some diehards were resistant to reading a new book with a different authorial voice. But the tone and characters were so consistent with the early novels that the response was generally positive.
"I don't think you can find a fan reception about anything that is all positive," Sanderson reflects. "I've certainly never seen one. Not everyone liked the book, but not everyone liked Jim's books. Heck, not everyone likes Hamlet. That's just the way we are as people. There is no way to please everyone."
The writer knows it's important to listen to the fans. "There are some one-star reviews out there, [but feedback] has been overwhelmingly positive. I very much appreciate hearing that I'm on the right course. I hope I can make the next two books turn out as well."
So, after setup, I took part of the above photo, ran around and got the ball running on a few things for later, and then settled in for the opening ceremony. While doing this, I noticed in our program a "not finalized" cover for Towers of Midnight. I'm afraid I had no easy way to get it up so that you could see the detail, but I'm sure you're all clever enough to go hunt one down. Jason Denzel of Dragonmount.com soon walked up to the lectern and started us off with a story. I am sure we all remember Jason's trash-talk here on Tor.com over the Magic: The Gathering game he was going to have at the end of the The Gathering Storm signing tour, and then the subsequent beat-down Brandon gave him. Well, seems the truth of the matter was that Jason let Brandon win in exchange for the first chapters of Towers of Midnight, and that while he had promised to keep it secret, he was going to read them to us. Just as he was about to start, though, Alan Romanczuk, one of Robert Jordan's assistants, led a squad of Theoryland.com brutes out to arrest Denzel for crimes against the fandom and dragged him, and the pages, away. I'm not going to even speculate on what they did to him or the pages, but, well . . . here's a before and after shot. And yes, he might very well have been a zombie in the before.
Anyway, Matt Hatch took over the opening ceremony, where he and his loyal minion Frenzy introduced us to the guests and gave us an overview of what is to come, including the new Writers' Track with Jana Oliver and David Wong, in addition to Brandon Sanderson, and Paul Stevens from Tor and Harriet McDougal (editor of The Wheel of Time, in case you've been living under a rock).
After the opening ceremony, I worked three hours at registration, taking a bullet for the Con and missing the Harriet and Wilson panel and the "Big White Book—Worlds beyond the Westlands" panel. I did get to go to the sword forms workshop, though, which was fun. Jimmy from Age of Legends as done very well at recreating the sword forms, and supposedly Robert Jordan had said he did them right.
I went to dinner at Chick-Fil-A with a whole bunch of con-goers, where we confused many people with discussion of Asmodeon, TAR, Taim, and other fantasy series. We then went back, and I became one of the dealers for the Seanchan (Texas) Hold Em tournament. Proceeds went to the Mayo clinic (I believe) and the prize was a signed, limited edition, leather bound, mint copy of Knife of Dreams.
Now, the funny thing here is: I've never dealt or played or even watched Texas Hold Em. I volunteered to be a dealer just to help out and because I was gai'shain to the Con. Frickin' got touched while I was holding a butterknife, and I had to lessen my toh. Anyway, so I get a crash course in how to deal and start the tourney, and somehow, I ended up dealing the last table. Was great fun all told, though, and congrats to Matt from Theoryland (the same one that refused to be Mat) on winning.
After that, I had drinks with some other random con-goers and crashed around one AM.
Anyway, Jason had decided to "summarize" the first eleven books of the Wheel of Time in one hour, which officially makes him even crazier than I am. I mean, at least I originally gave it ten months. We met at eleven AM Friday to "rehearse", and by "rehearse", I mean "stand around and sort of read the lines while everyone keeps getting distracted by the actual work they have to do, or possibly a shiny thing on the ground". It was at this juncture that I met Trisha Norris, who was playing Min and is fabulous in every way, and who would end up being my Con Buddy for most of the weekend. We immediately started making fun of Jason, which just never gets old, while Jason smiled valiantly and refused to give up attempting to herd cats, poor man. It was like he had voluntarily decided to live every theatrical director's nightmare. I still giggle when I think about it.
I confess I was kind of expecting this to be a disaster, and the thing is, it was a disaster, but in a completely awesome way. The fact that no one knew their lines and had no idea where to stand and kept forgetting who everyone else was supposed to be playing just made the whole thing funnier. My brilliant braided wig idea, of course, was the biggest disaster of all. I had recruited Nynaeve Fan Club President Emma de Laat (as is only right and proper) to help me get it on (weirding out a fair number of people in the lobby restroom in the process), but two good braid tugs in my first scene ended the dream right quick. I was reduced to carrying the thing around in my hand for the rest of the
novel skit and randomly swinging it at people. Eventually I tossed it on the table behind the "stage", where Harriet promptly stole it and tried to put it on. I could have told her it was harder than it looks!
The skit in general was a smash, actually. Harriet played the narrator and the Finn, I as mentioned was Nynaeve, which meant I got to shove Jason around, since he was playing Rand. Matt Hatch was Perrin (because "he likes dogs"), and we got a random member of the audience to play Mat. I later found out that Random Mat was actually Mr. Richard Fife, who y'all know as a frequent
offender commenter right on this here blog. The best part is, he was the only person who didn't get to see the script beforehand, and yet did a better acting job than almost all of us. He was only overshadowed by Melissa Craib, who was a thoroughly awesome Elayne-as-New-Age-Ditz, and, rather to my surprise, Brandon Sanderson, who played all the male Forsaken, which meant he got to die at least four times (we skipped Be'lal), and did so with panache, flair, and a rather alarming amount of physical pratfalling. He really got into it, and kicked ass.
And since I might as well finish the curtain call: Aubree Pham was Moiraine, which was hilarious considering she was the tallest girl there, Dot Lin, Tor publicity wizardess, was all the female Forsaken, Jennifer Liang was Egwene, Wilson Grooms, Robert Jordan's cousin/brother and best friend, played Tam, Larry Mondragon played, who else, Lan Mandragoran. Pablo Defendini was Padan Fain (HAHAHA) and tried to sell everyone... ads, Alan Romanczuk (Jordan editorial assistant extraordinaire) was Thom (and I bet the restaurant staff are still looking for those "daggers"), Maria Simmons (the other Jordan editorial assistant extraordinaire) was Elaida (the most awesome miscasting EVER), Bob Kluttz of Encyclopedia WOT was Loial (Awwww), Jason Ryan of Arms of Valor was Rhuarc (and sold "Rand" a sword, just for the cognitive dissonance), Rachel Little was Aviendha, Tiffany Franklin got to smack the crap out of Jason (Denzel) as Cadsuane (and she really did, too!), and Will McDougal, Harriet's son, was Mazrim Taim.
And Tom Doherty, of course, was The Dark One. Mwhahaha.
Good times, y’all. Good times. I have been avoiding YouTube assiduously ever since.
The wisdom of poker-avoidance notwithstanding, going out drinking and dancing till three AM...ish when I had to speak in front of people the next morning like a human was probably not the most intelligent move I've ever made. Nevertheless, I was NOT late, JASON DENZEL. I was at the Fandom panel Saturday morning with like three whole minutes to spare. So There. Respect my Responsibilitai!
The Fandom panel consisted of me, Jason D., Matt Hatch, Bob Kluttz, and Melissa Craib talking about, duh, fandom, from the differing perspectives of our respective websites. I felt a little bit like the odd man out on this, since all of the others had started their own websites, like normal geeks, while the history of my own participation in fandom is a little... bizarrer. Not to mention, I was the only one talking about a section of fandom that actually died (namely, the rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan group).
But, it seemed to go over very well; I was pretty impressed at how many people showed, considering Brandon was running a writer's workshop at the same time (which I would have loved to go to, myself. Oh well). Basically the consensus of us all (which is something I've always said) is that the best thing about the Wheel of Time, aside from the books themselves, is the stupendous and enduring friendships and communities it has engendered, and how that has changed so many lives for the better. Mine definitely included; I've gotten to go places and meet people and do things as a result of WOT that I would never have done otherwise. JordanCon being, naturally, the latest example of such. Oh yeah, and what I'm doing right this second. Tis a thing of awesome, you guys.
I think it was around this point that Rebecca Starr, also Of The Commenters, introduced herself to me, and we chatted for a bit. It was very cool. I sort of haven't been mentioning it that much, but quite a few people came up to me and complimented me on the blog throughout the weekend, which was really just so awesome, and I'm really sorry I was in such a state of sensory overload that I have not retained most of their names. My brain, she is sievelike sometimes. But I really appreciated it, you guys, seriously.
No, it's not surprising that the fan response has not been 100% positive—in fact, if it were, that would be kind of suspicious. Sometime, look up Hamlet on Amazon and read the one-star reviews. If people can't agree on Hamlet, they're not going to agree on my books.
As for the less-than-positive reactions, they range from completely useless to very helpful. But it's dangerous to look at reviews of any sort while I'm writing. As writers we tend to focus on the negative and ignore the positive. It's just human nature. Beyond that, a writer has to walk a very tight line between keeping an audience in mind and following their own artistic vision for a work.
Now, these books are different in that—as I've mentioned before—I feel more beholden to the fan community than I otherwise might. These books belong to them more than they do to me. But I learned early on in my writing career that if I tried to do everything for everyone, the writing process would fail. So, it's more useful for me (on things like this book) to have people close to me watch the reviews/reactions and pass issues on to me when there seems to a consensus of opinions. Those are the types of things I find it important to keep in mind when writing.
In the end, however, there is one opinion on these books that matters the most. That is Harriet's opinion. I look to her for guidance on characters, tone, and plotting. I will continue to do so. I think her hand on the book, mixed with Robert Jordan's notes, were the main reason the novel turned out so well.
Every time I got to a city where I thought, just to prepare myself, "Well, this signing probably won't be as big as the others," the crowd would be even larger. The dedication and loyalty that readers have to this series still shocks and stuns me.
Beyond that, the little gifts that people brought me were very touching. People gave bits of themselves. There was a reader who brought me a handmade blown-glass pen they had made. Another one brought me a Tar Valon mark coin that they had minted or forged and gave it to me. Pictures, paintings, gifts for the baby, cookies (in one case, shaped like the seals on the Dark One's prison,) and Magic Cards (which are an addiction of mine) are among the gifts I was given.
Things like that were very moving. But mostly, the humbling part was how well received I was. I really feel thankful to the fan community. They did not treat me as an outsider. They welcomed me in.
Hi all, Brandon's assistant Peter here. He's off on his tour (Thursday's stop is in the Chicago area), so he doesn't have a lot of time to update the blog. He did write one blog post ahead of time, which I'll post tomorrow probably. And you can keep track of his progress on Twitter and Facebook.
Brandon wanted me to give everyone an update on the promotion for Towers of Midnight that Brandon & Tor are doing in conjunction with the The Way of Kings tour. (The book, by the way, was just announced today as having hit #7 on the New York Times bestseller list to be released in ten days or so. Congrats, Brandon!) This promotion is being called The Great Hunt; Brandon is dropping clues in every stop on his tour that will slowly reveal more of the encrypted text found here. As I write this, 17 clues have been found or guessed outright. Brandon wanted me to list the clues and who found them, but . . . why should I duplicate effort? ;) Terez from Theoryland is already doing a great job at exactly that. So I suggest you pop over to this page if you want a roundup of all clues currently found or guessed. Brandon also adds more information more or less daily on Twitter and Facebook.
My son (he's ten and wore his Theoryland t-shirt) and I went down to Brandon's signing at the Orem, UT library this evening. I have the audio of the general Q&A with the audience, but nothing specific to anything WoT related, so I'm not going to transcribe that right now.
After the speech and Q&A, we waited for the line of those waiting for their books to be signed to end. I didn't come with a list of questions, but I figured I couldn't leave without asking a couple. So, here are the few I asked—two are ones I came up with regarding two recently discussed theories and the rest were submitted by fans via @Theoryland on Twitter.
Short and sweet.
I thought it would be much harder to get the characters' voices down. That was the part I worried about, and if you read my early interviews, I talk a lot about that. And surprisingly, it was not nearly as difficult as I thought. There are certainly a few characters I struggled with more than others. But in this book, Towers of Midnight, I think our character voices are spot-on. That actually comes from Jason from Dragonmount's interpretation of it—he said that he believes it's really just on. And that makes me feel good.
What has been harder has been keeping track of everyone. I thought I was steeped in Wheel of Time lore before I started these books. No, I wasn't. When people on tour asked me questions I realized how ignorant I am, despite having written and studied as much as I have. I know a lot—it's like I've got a Master's degree in the Wheel of Time, but there are people out there with postdoc experience who are completely showing me up at every step of the way. Keeping track of everything is a real challenge. I've described before the way I approach this. Essentially, when I get ready to write a scene from a character's viewpoint, I dump everything into my head that I need, and I try to write all of those scenes in the book for that character while maintaining all of that knowledge. Then I dump it out and get everything ready for another character. That's the only way I can do it, because there's just so much to hold on to.
The book's release is getting closer, folks. Are you excited yet?
Dragonmount has announced the Tower Guard program for the upcoming book tour, similar to the Storm Leaders program from last year. Basically, this is an opportunity for a few hardcore fans in each city to spend some personal time with Harriet and me, in exchange for helping out at the signing. I had a great time with the Storm Leaders last year, and I look forward to it again this year. If you're interested in the opportunity, Dragonmount's application is right here.
I've also put up a page explaining how to get signed & numbered copies of Towers of Midnight. For those who can't attend a signing during the tour, pay close attention to the section on the Sam Weller's signing by mail. There's an important addition to that this time: For no additional shipping cost, you can buy another book to be delivered in the same box, such as a second copy of Towers of Midnight, or a copy of The Gathering Storm or The Way of Kings. (Only Towers of Midnight will be numbered, but I'll sign and personalize the other books too.)
On the same page, details on the numbering system for the midnight release are there too. If you went to the Way of Kings release it will work pretty much the same way, but there are a few changes from how it worked at last year's The Gathering Storm release. Plus they have some cool things planned for the release party. Check it out.
Did the notes squash/support any of your theories/ideas of where the books were going? Are you able to tell us what or how?
Yes. It did both. Some things were supported, some things were squashed, and some things I just didn't have any personal theories on. I can't speak of many of them. I'm trying to remember which ones were in The Gathering Storm that I can talk about. I did think that there was a good chance—or at least I hoped and theorized—that Elaida would end up as a damane. And I was very happy to see that. I was taken completely by surprise by the Verin revelation. Most of the things that were squashed happen in the next two books, so I can't really talk about them. And it's very hard to look back and say, "What were my theories, and what did I think about things?" because it's been three years now since I first looked at the notes and I already have all of that in my head.
Oh, I can tell you one thing that was squashed. To be perfectly honest, I'd always secretly suspected that Asmodean was still around, and that was totally squashed. So there you go. Part of me always thought, “Oh, Robert Jordan isn't telling us because Asmodean is around; he's doing something," but no, he's just dead. He's totally dead. But you know, I think Robert Jordan had even confirmed that and I hadn't seen the interviews until after I started working on the series. I'm pretty sure that somewhere out there is a Robert Jordan confirmation, a "He's toast" comment.
With The Way of Kings out, I think it’s safe to say your other works are more than holding their own, but were you concerned in the early days about the Wheel overshadowing your other stories? Are you happy with the Wheel Fandom’s response to your other writing?
Yes, to the last question. I am happy with the response. Though I do want to make the caveat that in my mind, the Wheel of Time fandom is not my fandom. I don’t mean that pejoratively. I mean that I don’t have any assumption that people who read the Wheel of Time books are going to like or even read my own work. I’m flattered when they give my books a chance, but people have asked me this question a lot and I do think that over the long haul there’s a pretty good chance that I’m going to stay overshadowed by the Wheel of Time. And that’s not a bad thing. In the case of something like this series—which has been a monumental influence, has sold so many copies, and is just such a dominant factor in the genre—I don’t think you can help but be overshadowed by it a bit. But I knew that when I took the project on in the first place. Being a footnote to the Wheel of Time is still a position of great honor. It’s been an honor to be involved.
I write my own books. I enjoy writing them. It’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life, and I’m flattered that they’ve had the success that they have, and that people enjoy them. I don’t sit up nights thinking, “Am I only going to be known as the guy who finished the Wheel of Time?” People are reading my stories, and beyond that I get to be a writer for a living. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. In all of those regards I’m insanely lucky. You’ve got to remember that I spent years and years and years writing books without anyone reading them other than my close friends. I wrote thirteen novels that way, and was completely satisfied. Sure, I wanted to get published, but it was telling the stories that was the most satisfying part. And if I had continued to do only that, then I still would have been completely satisfied. So anything beyond that is icing on the cake.
I thought Rand’s arc in The Gathering Storm was brilliant—starting to get better then—bang! Cuendillar Rand, and finally "Veins of Gold". Was it difficult to write? Can you give us some insight into how you stayed in the mind of a madman?
It was difficult to write. I’ve said before that I view a lot of these characters as my high school friends, people I grew up with. Facilitating Rand going through these extremely painful and sometimes revelatory moments was not easy emotionally, and yet there’s an excitement and a power to writing emotional scenes where things are coming together. So I would say it’s actually more difficult to write a character like Gawyn, who’s frustrated and struggling with not knowing what he’s doing, than someone like Rand who always has a direction—even if that direction is straight down, as it was in places. He’s always moving. So because of that, Rand was in many ways easier to write than other characters were. Yet at the same time it was painful to write. That doesn’t really answer your question, but maybe it does give some insight, as you asked.
Following that is probably a good time to ask: Were you scared by the rabid nature of the fans? We do be crazy.
I was very scared. Heh heh. For one thing, I was really scared that I would pronounce things wrong and get raked over the coals for that. I also knew how passionate people are about this—and they have a right to be—so I feared I would be vilified for my faults. Because I do have faults. I’ve been very up-front with people that I don’t consider myself as good a writer as Robert Jordan, particularly at the height of his writing abilities working on these books. And so that was a real concern for me. I talked about that last year on tour quite a bit, which anyone who saw my presentation about the books would remember. Screwing this up would mean hatred on huge levels from a large number of people. So I just took that as extra motivation to not screw it up. Or at least to screw it up less than any other person could have, since Robert Jordan was no longer here to do it right.
What’s the funniest/oddest thing a fan has ever suggested to you, or asked you about the series?
There was a fan who came up to me completely seriously and said, “I know the secret. Don’t worry. I know it’s going to happen. I won’t tell people. I just want you to know that I know. I know that Mat is actually the Dragon Reborn and not Rand. I know this is going to come out in one of the next books, and everyone else will be surprised, but it’s all laid out right there, and here are the facts of why Mat is the Dragon Reborn.” And I blinked and said, “Oh, well, that’s an interesting hypothesis,” and then thought, I hope you’re not terribly disappointed when you find out you’ve been wrong all these years.
Towers of Midnight will be released in fourteen days and seven hours. If you want to order a signed and numbered copy from Sam Weller's, you have just one week left. I'll be driving up there next Monday morning and personalizing all the books that they've received preorders for. As of a week ago more than half of their copies were already reserved, so if you've been thinking about ordering a copy, now's the time. [EDIT: Sam Weller's is now SOLD OUT. Wow, that was fast.] Of course, if I'm going to be appearing close to where you live, then you should support your local bookseller and get the book signed when I get there.
The prologue ebook is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, Audible, etc. But with the book just two weeks away, if you haven't already read the prologue by this point you can hold off two more weeks, right? There are also free previews: Chapter One on Tor.com and Chapter Eight here. I believe that Tor.com will also be releasing Chapter Two, possibly this week.
Dragonmount has announced the names of the lucky people selected to be Tower Guards for my upcoming tour. Congrats to the selectees! If you didn't get picked, don't lose heart. I'll still get a lot of chances to talk to people on the tour, and Tor will most likely make the next tour, for A Memory of Light, my largest ever.
Have you seen the book trailer that Tor had Jason put together for Towers of Midnight? I realize it's been out for a while (it debuted at Dragon*Con), but it's a real treat. There's also a "making of" feature here.
At or around 3:30am we were packing up all my equipment, and leaving. Spencer and I were the last two Tower Guards remaining. The bookstore employees had mostly disappeared as well. Just as we were getting ready to leave we noticed that there was a very small group of fans (from the 17thshard.com—Brandon's official fan site) that were waiting patiently outside in the cold for Brandon to play a game of Magic: The Gathering with them.
Even at 3:30am, Brandon was kind and alert, and he agreed to play "just one" game with them. I've never played, but I could tell that it was five on one. Brandon creamed them all. Muahahahahaha!! It was cool to see that. At about 4am, he said his good-byes, and walked away.
When he signed my Mistborn books, and Elantris, I told him where my Theoryland name originated, and asked him if he ever visited Theoryland.
He has lurked at Theoryland for the theories, but never posted there.
All things considered, in short order the last person made their way through the line, and by eleven o’clock there were only a handful of people left roaming about the Tower. I was able to absorb a lot in that brief window of time, due in most part to Brandon and Harriet’s unflagging dedication to their fans. Over and over Brandon made sure to ask each person if they had any questions, not just about the Wheel of Time but about any of the projects he is involved in, and more than a few people were brave enough to ask the occasional question of Harriet or tell her how Robert Jordan’s work has changed their life. I felt almost like a Brown, quietly sitting back to listen and make mental notes to jot down once I returned home. If I can take away anything from that experience to pass on and share with the rest of you, it would only be to say that we truly are blessed to have Robert’s life’s work left in such capable, enthusiastic hands.
My job was to keep the masses amused. With 400 people, there was going to be some waiting in line. People were called up 10 to 20 at a time to wait, the rest reading, milling around the store, or venturing out to find food. When they arrived in line, they would find me waiting with a huge bag of candy and a list of trivia questions I’d composed (thanks http://www.encyclopaedia-wot.org/ for letting me fact-check my memory so easily!). If they answered a question right, they got to pick a piece of candy. If they answered it wrong, they could still take candy, because I felt like a jerk withholding it. Many who missed their question demanded to be asked another, stating they needed to “earn” their candy. There was also a large number of people who were there getting books signed for others who couldn’t be present. These people had never read the series. They got candy for being awesome.
A number of hardcore fans demanded that I try to stump them. I’m happy to report that I was able to in most cases. But in these cases other fans quickly jumped in to help, ganging up on the poor helpless Tower Guard with his bag of candy. Everyone was in high spirits, despite the long waits, and the trivia seemed to amuse many. I did manage to learn one spoiler (due to a poorly-chosen question I asked) but it was something I had mostly guessed anyway. Oh well, the price I had to pay.
There were three items in our WoT swag box that went beyond mere bumper stickers. These included an extra Tower Guard shirt (signed by Brandon and Harriet), a Borders display poster for the book (also signed) as well as an excellent bronze bookmark with the Serpent and Wheel logo. These were chosen by line number raffle, with the numbers picked by Harriet. The winner of the shirt went to a very excited woman who “never wins anything” in her words. A bookstore display Towers of Midnight Poster went to Craig, a recent fan who quickly became a “raving ultra-hardcore fan.” Truly, there is no zeal like the zeal of the recent convert. In a neat turn of events, the bookmark went to a gentleman who was there for his brother, currently serving in the military overseas in Korea. It will be shipped to him along with a copy of the book! We all agreed that this was a great way to part with the bookmark (which the Tower Guard all secretly coveted).
The event wound down, and at last it was just a few stragglers and the Tower Guard that needed their books signed. In a move that would surprise no one who knows me, I managed drop one of my three Towers of Midnight copies, bending a few of the pages. I decided that, rather than saddling my brother or cousin with the slightly-damaged copy, I would pay the klutz’s price and claim that one for myself. But Brandon surprised and amused me when he found the bent pages and wrote BUBBLE OF EVIL along the crease. So yeah, sometimes being a klutz pays off. Also, Brandon Sanderson is awesome. I also got Harriet to sign my copy of Winter’s Heart, previously autographed by Robert Jordan himself. She found the dedication page (“Always for Harriet. Always,”) and signed beneath it, a gesture which I found very touching. Harriet McDougal is a very special lady, and it was a pleasure and an honor to have met her.
I’ll close with a quote from a Tower Guard’s email. “One more time. In barely over a year, it will be over. Feels like ice water being poured down my spine. After doubts arose about the series even being completed, fans couldn't have a better person than Brandon complete it, or one who could connect as well with the fans. 20+ years will have passed since the furious ride to The Eye of the World, ‘yet shall the Dragon Reborn confront the Shadow at the Last Battle, and his blood shall give us the Light. Oh ye people of the world, weep for your salvation.’”
Photos available here: http://www.dragonmou...dnight-signing/
How can I describe a dream come true? With this report,I'll give it my best try. My day started with my son waking me up saying..It's today! Yes, I admit it,even my eight year old knew how special a day this particular Sunday was going to be for me.
After going to church and offering prayers for the success of the whole Tour with special Trisagion Prayers of Mercy being said for the repose of the Soul of our beloved Departed Creator "Robert Jordan" and for the continued health of Harriet. I drove to Cambridge loaded with books, instructions and questions.
I also had all the the Tower Guard T-shirts. Since the Tower Guards and I did not get to meet prior to the Book Signing, I wouldn't wear my t-shirt until each of the other Tower Guard's had theirs. I wanted so badly to show it off, but felt honor bound not to..so I waited.
All the Tower Guards met at the Harvard Coop where there were lovely displays of the whole of the Wheel of Time Series as well as all of Brandon's books. I was pleased to see that Karen Porter from the bookstore was able to have all the books in time because last year I was unable to obtain even one full set of Brandon's books. This year, they were well stocked.
If one were to guess the amount of people planning to attend the book signing from the facebook page, they would have been surprised. I think we had over fifty people waiting in line at the time the Tower Guards arrived, and we arrived at least three hours prior to the Signing. We got ourselves set up and Dennis got started right away asking people questions from his specially prepared list. I will include the questions at the end of this report. I must say that the people who "WON" the prizes deserved them. These were no easy questions. In the meantime, I had my cell phone on and was patiently waiting for a call from Brandon and Harriet's driver's to tell us they arrived, when all of a sudden, in walks Brandon. It was like, HE's here..OMG...he's here.
One of the fan's went up and introduced himself to Brandon, reminding him that they met before and Brandon being the gentleman that he is, started to get involved in the conversation. We,. the Tower Guards being jealous of our personal time with Brandon and feeling it dwindle away, rushed him off to the fourth floor where the Coop kindly brought up a light lunch for us all. One of the Guards met with Harriet and we all sat down for our books to be signed, receive special instructions and ask questions.
We're not allowed to "discuss" spoilers but suffice it to say that most of our questions were met with "RAFO". I needed to be told what RAFO stood for. (Read and Found Out). Brandon told us that this was one of +Robert Jordan's favorite answers. I can see why. After our time for which I and I'm certain the other Tower Guards are forever grateful for, we went to the book signing area where it seemed that the amount of people tripled. The first thing evident other than the size of the crowd was the diversity of the crowd. We had people from all over the world, Brazil, Portugal, India, China, Korea, Japan, Israel and Lebanon. Children, infant's and parents all were together to show support and love for the Wheel of Time Series and for their new favorite author.
I met many people there who actually found out about the Wheel of Time because of Brandon's Sanderson's books and vice versa. While listening to many of the conversations the majority of people echoed the grateful feelings that Brandon is the one finishing the Series and that he is doing a "bang up job" of it. (bang up job-not being my words). I don't remember her name, sorry, but when I was asked by a young lady who the woman was sitting next to Brandon and I told her that it was Harriet, +Robert Jordan's widow, she was in awe almost to the point of tears.
Brandon was introduced by Richard, a member of the Harvard Coop who was incredible. He compared the Wheel of Time with Mahabaharat both in size and complexity and really "blew it out the of the ballpark"! Brandon said a few words and made his plea for everyone to patronize the book store and thanked the Harvard Coop for hosting us. He then introduced Harriet who read from my book! Squee!! Brandon had chosen to read from my book last year and HE mentioned that Harriet should read from my book this year so I would have a set. Isn't he Super Fantastic??!! Silly question I know.
Harriet read the Prologue and the few dry eyes that were in the crowd were probably hiding their tears well. I hope that my Tower Guard who had to step away for a moment doesn't get angry at me for writing this. What passion! What a Blessing to have had Harriet with us!
After the Reading, which I do have on video and will post here, the actual signing took place. On a sidenote, my Red Sister, Kaths made me a shawl so that I could have it in time for the signing, and Harriet LOVED it. Kaths, you did good! I draped the shawl over the chair that Harriet or Brandon were going to sit in and there it stayed!
Venkat and Andrea, who is the Mistress of Novices at theoryland.net, immediately started taking pictures, Bob and Dennis organized the people and started asking questions, I was standing there to make sure that everything was going well and if Brandon or Harriet needed anything, I was there to get it . The line went quickly with many surprise gifts for Brandon, Peter, his assistant, and Harriet.
We actually finished half an hour prior to Brandon's deadline and got to spend an extra half an hour of quality time with the small group that remained. There were many people that made great impressions on us. The Wolf Brother was one, Kalyani, who made special t-shirts for Brandon and Harriet and a special one for Peter, because he answers all her questions. Kalyana was promised to be a Trooper/Guard next year and it struck a chord because the first thing out of her mouth was, "I hope I am in the US next year." I will go anywhere." It's fair to say that all who heard her heartfelt wish also want her to be in the US for the next Signing. Kalyani, I hope to see you next year!
The little babies who were at the signing were a treasure but the young 13 year old who asked Brendan a question to which he was answered.."RAFO" was adorable. Okay,so I'm showing my age..but he was. Last but not least was the Pi Lanningham. who insisted that he be the "last" in line. Check out his t-shirt. I want one of those!
After everyone had their books signed, extra books signed for the Coop, we presented Harriet and Brandon with our gifts to them. We got "Dark Magic Cards" for Brandon and a Harvard Sweatshirt for him and for Harriet. My trooper decided to get some small gifts for Brandon's children because as he said, parents love to buy gifts for their children and it didn't look like Brandon would have any time to do much shopping. I agree, great job!
OK, here goes... If anyone else has pictures from the signing, please post them also. Thanks to Cuthbert 19 for sending me his pictures.
In case the pictures get deleted from imagehost, I also put them up on a Dragonmount gallery here:
Signing Report Paris—Major spoiler warnings
The signing was a great event with over 100 people present. Brandon was very happy with it. The bookstore people were very nice and had bought some drinks for everyone.
Brandon's wife Emily sent me an email when they got to Paris and they met me in a café beforehand as a thank you for helping set up the book signing. Brandon signed my books and drew a dead Narg for me because I told him that I am on Theoryland and Dragonmount and he had done things like this for other Theorylanders (See Terez's dead Asmodean drawing).
Then we went over to the bookstore.
Here's a picture of the store window with lots of WOT books:
...and the posters they put up:
Brandon began by reading Lan's part of the prologue with great enthusiasm:
Then came the questions & answers session (see detailed description below, videos are also coming).
I met up with Cuthbert and we also talked with some other enthusiastic fans met at the signing, one of which I convinced to buy The Way of Kings. During the line, we read Julien's list of questions deciding which one or two he should ask if Brandon only had time to answer one and speculated about what the answers might be.
Here's a picture of us with the list of questions:
We intentionally placed ourselves at the very back of the line because both Cuthbert and Julien had a very big sack of books, and this gave us more time to talk about our questions and hang out near the diet coke . It took about 2 hours to get through the line, which was fine with us!
Here's a picture of people in line (near the end):
... and Brandon signing books:
When we got to the front of the line, we asked our questions and Cuthbert identified himself as the guy who (almost) found the Venice clue during the great hunt (it was lost, but Brandon sent him a copy of it + another code) who flew to Paris just for the signing. There's a great picture of them at the signing table with the clues:e
Afterwards, the bookstore was planning to take Brandon and mily to dinner but as only one person from the bookstore was coming, Brandon invited Federico, Julien, 2 other fans and I who had waited at the back of the line to come along too which was a very fun experience and we got to ask more questions (yay).
Brandon and Emily opening magic cards from Federico:
The rare card in Brandon's pack (I think this is the one he had Federico sign):
Group picture at dinner:
Please note that here were some topics that Brandon talked about at the signing and also later, so I may have put some things he said later into the description of his answer to the question at the signing to have everything on the same theme in one spot.
This was a really great time and I want to thank Brandon, Emily, the bookstore and everyone who came! For those who were there, let us know who you were and if you remember anything I didn't mention here or got a question in line that I didn't hear.
Signing Q&A Video 1:
Sorry about the shaky beginning, it gets better after about a minute:
Signing Q&A Video 2:
Video 3 and final:
Signing Q&A summary:
Right. With my own novels, it was very different in that. First of all, with the Wheel of Time, I really do feel that I'm in debt to the fans; I'm writing these books for the fans. But the series belongs to them, and the series doesn’t belong to me. With my own books, I really don't look toward what the fans are going to say; I follow my own artistic integrity and say: "I'm going to write the book that, as an artist, I feel needs to be written."
But with the Wheel of Time I felt that I needed to consider the fans more, if that makes any sense. And in a lot of ways, the reviews on The Gathering Storm are more important to me, because if I wrote something the fans didn't like, then I was failing. Whereas if I write something artistically that I know people may not like as much, that won't be as popular, but that I feel artistically for myself important to release, I can be okay with bad reviews. So, I paid a lot more attention to them, and I wanted to see what the fans thought I was doing well and what they thought I was doing poorly. And I wanted to be able to respond to that.
I feel they're extremely important for me. We're entering an interesting age for art, because there are impressive levels of communications between artist and patron. And I really do look at my readers as my patrons. If you go back to the 19th century, for an artist to create great art, they would usually have to have a wealthy nobleman who was funding them to be able to do it. And these days, it actually works the same way in my mind, except the wealthy lord who's funding me is actually all the crowd, the fandom.
We, in science fiction and fantasy, are a very tight-knit community, and I find that fans of science fiction and fantasy tend to be very different from like movie star fans who go crazy or things like that. Science fiction and fantasy fans are part of the conversation: they come up to you, and they can converse; it's like they're colleagues. And out of this entire group, they say to me: "Okay, you go create art for our entire community. We'll support you in it, as part of our community." And I really feel a debt to my readers, for allowing me the opportunity to do what I do for a living. And so my best way to respond to that, I feel, is to be very open and to have a lot of communication. A lot of fans get frustrated because they don't know when the books are coming out, and I like to have updates and let people know—daily updates. I belong to them in a lot of ways, so they deserve to see what I'm doing, with the opportunity they've given me.
Oh, I don't know. I would say that I do feel pressure. An example of this is: before The Wheel of Time, I spent a decent amount of time on web forums, I would visit these forums and talk, and nobody really knew who I was; some of them would see I'm a writer but you know, there are lots of writers. So suddenly this happened, and everyone knew who I was, and every forum had a big long thread about me—I showed up on Slashdot, and all of these things. Suddenly, I'm very much in the focus and I found that I couldn't spend as much time on these forums, because if I did, all I wanted to do was argue with people, or sometimes just discuss and have good discussions, but I found that suddenly since it's about me it was so much more personal that it was very hard to let go of the web forums. So I just had to cut off ties to them, because otherwise I could spend all day just talking with the people who are posting on these threads.
And so that level of awareness, it is kind of surreal. I've actually been recognized on the street, in a city. I went to San Diego, randomly, and someone recognized me and said: "Are you Brandon Sanderson?" That's bizarre! They weren't there for my signings, they didn't know I was in town; they just passed me on the street!
So it is a little bit bizarre—now of course, as writers, we don't ever get really famous. Maybe once every couple of years someone will recognize me in the street, so it's not like I'm really a celebrity or anything, but it's still weird, and odd, to be able to post on a forum and people know who I am.
About a week ago, I finally got back from my extended stay in Europe. I have to say, you guys treated me very well over there. I hope to be back soon.
One of the highlights was my impromptu event in Amsterdam. If you didn't follow that little fiasco on Twitter, I ended up missing my connecting flight to Oslo because of an air traffic controller strike in France. This resulted in an eight-hour layover.
Well, I tweeted about what was happening, and some very kind (and somewhat determined) fans convinced me I should go out and see the city. I did. And it was awesome. By the end, there were about twenty of us. We grabbed food at a local place, and I asked what was considered authentic Dutch cuisine. I was told pancakes by one person and potatoes by another. So, I ordered pancakes and fries.
Strange looks ensued. Apparently "pancakes and potatoes" meant "pancakes or potatoes." But I stuck to my guns. (And this was by no means just an excuse to order some fries . . . )