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2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."

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Your search for the tag 'gender' yielded 167 results

  • 1

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    What advice would you give Rand concerning his relationship with Aviendha, Min, and Elayne?

    Robert Jordan

    Step very carefully. It’s hard enough for a man to deal with one woman at a time, since we aren’t really equipped mentally to keep up without a lot of effort. A man could get trampled very easily trying to keep up with three, not least because they have their own relationship with one another, and no matter what he does, he will not ever in a million years be able to understand that, or be able to avoid cutting his own throat on it. Luckily for him, I do, and I can. For him, anyway.

    Tags

  • 2

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    Do you feel that fantasy literature is heading in a more feminist direction? If so, what role has The Wheel of Time series played in that? Did you consciously focus on creating strong female characters? Who do you think is your strongest female character? Who is your favorite female character?

    Robert Jordan

    Whether or not fantasy is becoming more feminist, I couldn’t say. If it is, I certainly don’t know whether The Wheel has played any part. There have been fantasies based at least in part on the feminist struggle for many years, long before I began writing these books. In fact, I have been accused of ignoring the feminist struggle, though that isn’t exactly true. I simply decided to write in a world where the feminist struggle occurred so long ago that no one even remembers it. People in this world may think that a woman acting as a guard on a merchant’s train of wagons is odd, but just because it’s a rare sight. (When weapons depend on upper body strength, as swords, spears, halberds and bows do, the people who end up wielding the weapons are usually those with the greatest upper body strength.) But if a merchant or a magistrate or a dock worker is a woman, that’s just part of the description. I mean, the most powerful single group in this world for the last three thousand plus years is all-female. The Aes Sedai are actually the most sexist bunch in town, in many ways. In the eyes of most of them, a Warder is a man. The very notion of a female strikes them as peculiar and even uneasy-making. Which might just be the remnants of knowledge of what the differences are between a bond that links a man and a woman and the bond that links two women. (RAFO, guys, though the clues are already there. And by the by, a bond linking two men is also different, just not different in the same way.)

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  • 3

    Interview: Nov, 1993

    Trinity College Q&A (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    He also spoke for quite some time on the splitting of the One Power into male and female halves, and on the disharmony produced when they don't work together...this came across as one of the core elements in the origin of WoT. (re: Yin/Yang—leaving out the little dots in the symbol is an intentional representation of the lack of harmony between male/female Power in Randland.)

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  • 4

    Interview: 1994

    John-Mark Turner

    RJ was very patient and enthusiastic. He looked different than the picture mostly due to the dark tint in his glasses.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ also mentioned being unable to attend West Point due to poor vision in his left eye. Shannon Faulkner and the Citadel...he feels she should not be allowed to attend the Citadel because she lied on her application by not revealing her gender. He also feels that single sex education is beneficial for both men and women. He said men tend to be more successful in a competitive environment while women tend to excel in cooperative environments (e.g., studies have shown that girls that go to all girl colleges have less math fear, stress, etc. than coeds). He also mentioned that he personally feels that the physical standards suffer at military institutions when women attend. He talked about himself being shot down in a helicopter and having to run twenty-five miles literally and anyone who would have been unable to do that would not have survived.

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  • 5

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Erica Sadun

    Erica asked Jordan about Shannon Faulkner, the female attempting to get into The Citadel.

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan immediately said "She's a liar," and explained how she misrepresented herself on her application. The Citadel has an honor code that views lying as a very serious offense. He thinks the military is one role where men are physically more able to do the job, and if one can't meet the same requirements then they shouldn't be accepted. He frowned on the practice of West Point no longer having women march in combat boots. He mentioned that in Vietnam he had to run for twenty-some miles, and if he hadn't been able to make it he wouldn't be here today. He says in some fields though women would naturally replace men if tradition didn't keep men involved, such as law.

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  • 6

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Red Ajah: not all lesbians—just manhaters. RJ knows non-manhating lesbians. Not based at all on Agnes Scott girls. Based on some girls he knew as a child.

    All women in Randland—based on his wife. "Does she tug her hair?" "No. Mine."

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  • 7

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Girl at Citadel: "She is a liar. She and the guidance counselor deliberately whited out all references to her gender." (Followed by about 10 minutes of impassioned talk about how running in combat boots saved his life in Vietnam—fascinating, touching and irreproducible.)

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  • 8

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Sniffs and Snorts—you have to decide which sounds sound like what. "Siuan snorts". (Why do women sniff and men snort?)

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  • 9

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Kevin

    How did the Ajahs originate?

    Robert Jordan

    Simply because I needed an organization for the power structure, and it seemed to me that a collective organization was something women were more likely to come up with, rather than something strictly hierarchical.

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  • 10

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Degan Outridge

    Your societies seem to all place women in a very influential role. Any particular reason why you created so many matriarchies? Also, do you already have a solution for Rand's love triangle?

    Robert Jordan

    1. 3000 years ago, the world was destroyed by men: specifically men, and for all of that time, every society has been afraid of any man who can channel. The result has to be greater power and influence for women. 2. Yes.

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  • 11

    Interview: Oct 11th, 2005

    NaClH2O

    Deadsy had sent me a Question of the Week that she had asked, the one about the configuration of the roof of the White Tower. The Barnes & Noble (or Tor I'm not sure which) clone said that it was against the rules to have this signed. I protested a bit and she called in a higher level clone.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ was listening to all this and said, "It's okay, I'd be happy to sign it. I'll sign anything as long as it's not certain male body parts." So I got it signed. And gave him the CD Deadsy had sent as well. He mentioned that bribes did not work and Deadsy would still not know the answer to "Boxers or Briefs". He seemed to be in a very jocular mood.

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  • 12

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Lou Person

    Hello all and Mr. Jordan. I am a big WOT fan and I am amazed by some of the themes, i.e. struggle between men and women. Mr. Jordan truly sheds some light on differences between men and women. There also seem to be some allusions to Native Americans, weaves of fire, air, etc. The politicking and warring of the Game of Houses and battle scenes are told with the clarity of someone who has military experience. Can you briefly state what from your background makes WOT so realistic?

    Robert Jordan

    Forty-odd years of life. "Briefly?" It's what it boils down to.

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  • 13

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (4 January 2011)

    Yes, early WoT is very Tolkien influenced. But several original things really stood out to me when I was younger.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    1) The magic. 2) Strong female protagonists. 3) A woman 'wizard' figure who was far more human than others I'd seen. 4) Tam lives.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Though I like Gandalf, Dumbledore, Belgarath, & Allanon, I prefer Moiraine as a character. (Actually, Allanon always just annoyed me.)

    HARRISON ISRAEL

    I always liked Allanon :(

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's okay. I'm fond of him. But he still annoyed me.

    HAMLETISDEAD

    Can you share what it is about Allanon that annoyed you? I can list a few, but the main reason was his decision making...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Mostly the air of mystery and withholding information. Often a problem with people in his role, but he seemed more-so.

    BRYCE NIELSEN

    What about Polgara? :P

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Polgara was awesome. Belgarath was pretty cool too, but Moiraine always feels slightly more real than either one to me.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    But that's modern Brandon. Teenage Brandon might have thought differently.

    CHRIS WOOD

    But which of those early wizards was your favorite? I liked Belgarath, but Eddings was one of my first series.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    As a youth, I often listed Eddings as my favorite author. It wasn't until I was older that WoT took over completely.

    CHRIS WOOD

    I agree, I still read Eddings and suggest him to people who are "new" into fantasy, but it has gone down my list too.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    There is a perfect age to read Eddings, where he resonates best. As you age, something about his characters and plots...stiffens.

    JENN HOGAN

    I am in agreement but I love Belgarath's humor and his devotion to family and his God and his brothers.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Belgarath was interesting also in being an amalgamation of a trickster figure and a wise mentor. By far one of Eddings' most round.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Both him and Polgara. They're both also more powerful than Moiraine. But there's just something about her. True wisdom.

    JOHN STOCKTON

    I was thrown by your "when I was younger" remark until I remembered this series started 20 years ago. Wow.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I started when I was 14 or 15...

    YELLOW

    The WoT names always annoyed me because they're so close to real names. Any chance of dropping a Blixbop into A Memory of Light?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Mr. Jordan did this intentionally, to hint that the WoT world was our world in the future (and the past.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's part of the 'feel' of the world. They are close to real names because they ARE real names, just many years removed.

    TADBO

    The females in The Wheel of Time are among the most two-dimensional in the history of fantasy.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I disagree. Case in point: Tolkien's female protagonists. (Which was the comparison I was making.)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    But even beyond that, you have to remember, this is a society with some skewed gender relationships because of the way magic works.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    But Moiraine is hardly two-dimensional. Neither is Nynaeve. They can be annoying, yes, but that's not the same as two-dimensional.

    TADBO

    They scheme, they argue, they tug on their skirts and stamp their feet, or they fall at Rand's feet. Really?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Aviendha is very distinctive. Tuon is very distinctive. Min is very distinctive. Many of the Aes Sedai act as you say, but...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    ...I see this as an intentional effect of the society they live in.

    ZEERAK WASEEM

    Don't you get annoyed with the females in WoT? The female lead I prefer is Aviendha, the rest are full of themselves.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Oh, I didn't say they didn't annoy me at times. I said they were strong, and I'll add that they are interesting.

    TADBO

    Final note. I would argue that Jordan's female protagonists are MAIN characters, whereas Tolkien's are mainly supporting.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    The Tolkien point is valid. However, remember what started this conversation. I was saying things about the WoT that impressed me.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    One was a large cast of female main characters, something a lot of fantasy by men I'd read was lacking.

    TEREZ

    WoT females are caricaturish, sometimes stereotypical, but not two-dimensional. (This from a female.)

    TADBO

    Yes, caricatures. A better description than two-dimensional.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Well, different people read things differently. If WoT's women didn't work for you, I understand why, though I don't feel the same.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    You're not the only one to feel that way.

    TEREZ

    The fact that I see them as caricatures helps me to enjoy them as characters more. It's RJ's own type of dry humor.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I view them more of products of a society where social norms are different, and women have something 'machismo'-like.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It makes them act similar in places, even though when you see into their souls, there is something deeper.

    TEREZ

    In my opinion this is also true, but the caricature part is an important aspect of accepting ALL WoT characters as they are.

    TEREZ

    They, like the story itself, are ubertropes. There is more to them than that, just as there is more to the story.

    FELIX PAX

    It's as if RJ's sense of humor was written for a theater company on stage. Bombastic, perhaps?

    TEREZ

    I think the word you are looking for is 'exaggerated'. But yes, stage-acting a very good comparison.

    TADBO

    I don't know if I ever saw it as 'dry humor'. The Aes Sedai scared the crap out of me in high school.

    TEREZ

    Well, maybe now that you're a big boy... ;) RJ said he'd rather hunt leopards...

    TADBO

    True enough. XD

    TEREZ

    I mean, have you SEEN the map of Tar Valon? It's supposed to be funny, people. And serious at the same time, of course.

    JAMES FURLONG

    Haha! Just clicked on, never noticed THAT before. Hoho!

    HBFFERREIRA

    LOL Never noticed it before either.

    KAREN BASKINS

    LOL! In nearly twenty years of reading WoT, I never took notice of the Tar Valon map. Thank you for the laugh. I needed that. :-)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've wondered about the map for Tar Valon. That...well, that can't be an accident. I've never asked Team Jordan, though.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Needless to say, it wasn't something I noticed when I was a teen.

    TEREZ

    Someone asked RJ about it. Sort of. His answer was hilarious.

    RICHARD FIFE

    Ya know, for some odd reason, I never really saw the map of Tar Valon. Now I'll never unsee it...

    TEREZ

    Indeed, it cannot be unseen. :)

    MATT HATCH

    ...wow, this really changes how I view the siege, harbor, and the iron chain becoming cuendillar.

    TEREZ

    You are such a perv, boss.

    MATT HATCH

    Showed my wife the map. Her immediate reaction: "Oh, Jim Rigney." Big smile.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    You'd never seen that before?

    TEREZ

    He had. Was just inspired by the moment to show it to his wife. And he'd never seen the quote. :)

    MATT HATCH

    I'd seen it...it was a while back; I remember thinking "really???" This reminded me and the quote made it hilarious.

    TEREZ

    Could give a whole new meaning to 'Rand had daydreamed over Master al'Vere's old map...'

    TEREZ

    '...half the boys in Emond's Field had daydreamed over it.'

    NICHOLAS BROWN

    To the blind... what am I seeing? I see a fish or a submarine. Is there something else?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Hm. How to do this without going places I don't care to go... Maybe a link will suffice. http://bit.ly/gMSLt6

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  • 14

    Interview: Oct 25th, 1994

    Question

    Which of the three (Elayne, Min, Aviendha) do you like best? I'm not asking which one Rand is going to get; which one is your favorite?

    Robert Jordan

    All my female characters are based on my wife. Am I supposed to dislike something about her?

    Tags

  • 15

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (6 January 2011)

    Nynaeve is a divisive force among WoT fans. Yes, she likes to call men wool-headed. Next time you read, though, watch her actions.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    She often speaks in a way influenced by her culture. But if you watch her body language and intent, she's a very different person.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    An excellent example of this is her conversation with Rand in The Eye of the World 16. She very reasonable, empathetic, and treats Rand as an adult.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, she calls all men wool-headed. If you want to understand Nynaeve, see these comments as kin to a Seanchan "May she live forever".

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Sure, she means them. Kind of. But mostly, they're just things you say when you are part of her culture.

    LEAH DEHNEL

    Its not just Nynaeve though, there's not a main character who is a woman who doesn't voice these sentiments at least once...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    That's why I argue it's cultural. Makes sense in a culture where men who have magic are a danger, but women are a resource.

    MIGNON FOGARTY

    I find Nynaeve very annoying. She's such an irrational pill.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Lol. I can't help seeing her, even still, as a big sister.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (7 JANUARY)

    "Dresses were not made for stalking."—Nynaeve, trying to sneak while wearing one. Gender roles are fascinating in the WoT. For example...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Harriet edits so we're careful to use non-gender-specific terms. Fisher instead of fishermen, as that's the preferred WoT usage.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    The world has blatant sexism on both sides, and yet, at the same time there's far more gender equality than found in most cultures.

    Tags

  • 16

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (6 January 2011)

    At the 35% mark we have Mat speaking the Old Tongue for the first time, books ahead of him getting memories stuck in his head.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've always found this a very curious event. Of the five Two Riversers, Mat's powers are the most subtly foreshadowed in the book.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Unless you count the short exchange between Lan and Perrin about wolves in a much earlier chapter.

    KRIT PETTY

    I thought that Mat's Old Tongue was a small way of RJ letting you think maybe Mat was the important one, not Rand.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, I think you're right on that count. It was certainly meant to make us think.

    LEE DAVIS

    The speaking the Old Tongue is from his bloodline though, not his memories in that case, isn't it?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, but it's still foreshadowing. He's the one who does it, not the others.

    SLEEPINGHOUR

    In The Eye of the World, is Mat remembering the Old Tongue from his own past life or from his ancestors?

    TEREZ

    Good question. He seems to have confirmed Old Blood for the Old Tongue, but the Aemon memory?

    FELIX PAX

    That's what my belief is, Aemon. Mat Cauthon is the reborn soul of Aemon. Aemon's Old Tongue.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It isn't made clear. It could be either. The implication is his bloodline.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    The Aemon connection is certainly implied strongly.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (7 JANUARY)

    "A metal tower?" Rand said. "I'll bet there's treasure inside," Mat said. "A thing like that must have been made to protect something..."

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    This is the start of Mat acting tainted, which always makes me sad. It will be a while before I can read him as himself again.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    First time one of the boys thinks, "I wish [insert other boy] were here. He knows what to say to women" happens at the 48% mark.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (10 JANUARY)

    I love that in the scene in Four Kings, the fact that the innkeeper is thin seems almost as ill an omen as a flock of ravens.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I wonder if Mat wearing the scarf around his head here is foreshadowing intentionally, or by coincidence, of the scarf on his neck.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Either way, there's some other strong foreshadowing there of events in Towers of Midnight, though I won't say specifics to avoid spoilers.

    ADAM DOWARD

    I've been wondering for ages is Mat going to wear an eye patch? Or will he wear a strip of cloth like Gemmel's Grymauch?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    RAFO.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Not sure what I think of the "start chapter, flashback to what has happened since last chapter" narrative style RJ prefers here.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I don't think he does it as much later. In these first books, he seems more worried about characters going chronologically off of each other.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Note that I do like flashbacks, and think that Chapter 33 is interesting structurally. I don't know if it fits just right, though.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    A good point: Some note that the erratic timeline here does help reinforce the sense of sickness from Rand and Mat's growing paranoia.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Also, it's fun that Mat is getting paranoid and crazy because of the dagger—except when he's thinking about food or a nice bed.

    Tags

  • 17

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Felix Pax (10 January 2011)

    If the Shadow's male channelers are called Dreadlords, what are the female channelers called in the Blight?

    Brandon Sanderson (10 January 2011)

    Right now, most are called Black Ajah. But I see what you're getting at. I've always thought of Dreadlords as gender neutral.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I'll have to ask on that one. I honestly don't have the answer handy.

    Tags

  • 18

    Interview: Oct 28th, 1994

    Julie Kangas

    I asked him if he based any of the male characters on himself.

    Robert Jordan

    He answered 'Of course not. All of them are flawed.'

    :)

    Julie

    Tags

  • 19

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    NOTE—TEREZ

    This conversation starts off with some of Brandon's thoughts on the lack of female ta'veren in the story, which apparently inspired some knee-jerk posts on Twitter and Facebook about sexism in WoT. Which inspired a mild overreaction on Brandon's part, and so on, which led to a lot of discussion on semantic distinctions and the like. But it was fun. The greater (and latter) part of the conversation took place when Brandon happened to be on an airplane with a choice between reading WoT and hanging out on Twitter where some HCFFs happened to be online. [That is, people who have spent the last ten years or more (in this case) thinking about WoT more than most things, and who in this case included a gay man and a (quasi? pseudo?)-feminist.] It is, for the most part, what some might perceive to be politically biased, so I offer an apology on behalf of all of us for what might appear to be PC-ness and conservative-bashing.

    Brandon Sanderson (11 March 2011)

    I remember the first time I heard the Egwene/Nynaeve/Elayne trio called the "Wondergirls." I'm pretty sure I was in Korea at the time.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've often gotten questions from people asking if Egwene was ta'veren. Obviously not, as Siuan would have seen the glow of it.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    People seem to wonder why all three boys, and not a single one of the girls, are ta'veren. I've assumed this was to confuse the Shadow.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    To make it difficult to track down Rand and kill him before he grew powerful, the Pattern made three ta'veren to keep everyone guessing.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Of course, it can be argued that the Pattern doesn't do such things—it simply IS. Still, I've liked that as part of the explanation.

    JONAS MUILWIJK

    Why the hell would the Wheel want to confuse the Shadow? :S The Wheel is good nor bad, so it won't choose a side.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Think of it this way—yes, the Pattern simply IS. But evolution simply IS as well. And some times, species evolve to...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    ...have many offspring in order to increase the chances of survival. Likewise, we have three ta'veren. A survival mechanism.

    TIM MARGHEIM

    Weak analogy? If evolution==Pattern, you'd need "Evolution IS, and evolution itself has DMs." Pattern doesn't have species.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Ha ha. I didn't say Evolution==the Pattern. I was showing an amoral, natural function could create something similar to three ta'veren.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Man, people sure are quick to accuse RJ of sexism on my Twitter feed & Facebook. I think any who do this are blatantly wrong.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's okay to not like the books, or to think RJ did a bad job with characterizations. I disagree, but everyone's tastes are different.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    But he took great pains to create many strong female protagonists with a variety of strengths, and gave them their own stories.

    KATELYN HECKETT

    I've picked up some funny male bias in the books (lots of "breasts", no male equivalent, etc.) but wouldn't say RJ's sexist.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, I've noticed a few of those too.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, there are (More than a few) sexist people in the WoT. And the culture has been influenced by the male/female interactions of the Power.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    However, if you look at the time devoted to female viewpoints—and the plots of those characters—the "RJ is sexist" theory erodes.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Warning: Long update on this topic. As a nod to those who truly know feminist literary theory, I'll make a less "Twitter friendly" argument. Robert Jordan, by creating a world where the women and men are very aware of gender roles, spent a lot of time delving into these topics. I'm convinced he was aware of male privilege, and though biased—as all of us are—sought very hard to overcome his own biases by creating evocative female characters with plot lines that do not center around the obtaining of favor or romantic interest from male characters. He also sought to create a world where women were not defined by how they were viewed by men, but were instead defined by their intelligence, determination, and accomplishments. In this way, though he exposes some small masculine biases in various areas, he was extremely progressive as a dominant male writer of his era, and should be regarded as anything other than "sexist" for his efforts. /Scholarly Brandon

    BRANDON BALLENGER

    Agreed. Hey, how much more "Scholarly Brandon" is online? Seen your postmodernism in fantasy essay, besides that?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Not a ton. I've had to walk a fine line, as I'm not enough of a scholar to trust myself digging too deeply.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've got a Master's, so I can talk the talk—but when others spent their time in research, I spent it practicing writing.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I think I have an essay or two on my website. Search for "Sanderson's First Law" and my religion essay regarding Elantris.

    TEREZ

    I didn't read all of the conversations you had about it on Twitter and Facebook, and I didn't really have gender roles in mind so much as other things. I understand what you're saying about how his world requires certain gender imbalances—I addressed that sort of offhandedly in my post by saying that the 'in practice' roles in WoT are often not what you would theoretically expect considering the circumstances. And while RJ often made comparisons to various time periods in the real world in reference to technology in particular, I'm not talking about that—I'm talking about the theoretical result of the history of the WoT world. Many of the gender imbalances are logical, but many are not, which is why they don't feel realistic at all to many readers.

    The main problem I had with your comments is that you said that anyone who accused RJ of sexism for whatever reason was 'blatantly wrong'. You sort of trivialize those things that we are 'left with' after cutting away the complex and subjective debate over gender roles, but those things we are left with are so pervasive in the novels that they give an overall impression of an old-fashioned and often casually sexist man behind the curtain. This is a big turn-off for some people, and while I feel that those who cannot overlook it are missing out on one of the greatest stories of all time, I understand that it is a legitimate complaint.

    As for the female nudity...just no. :p I mean, I know you read all the interviews at one point. 'No Male Nudity' (NMN) was not quite as popular as RAFO, but it was definitely one of his favorite stock answers (especially in reference to movie questions—it was his 'one rule') for a good few years. He was pretty blatant about his preferences there, and while I'm sure he had several cultural influences in mind, in the end it's pretty clear that he just enjoyed writing about naked women more than he enjoyed writing about naked men.

    I agree that it's wrong to judge RJ as a person anachronistically, but at the same time, I think it's wrong to make such a blanket statement about the veracity of our claims of sexism in WoT. It's there, and it's real. I agree that some people take the criticism too far without considering certain things—I've had these debates (on non-WoT forums especially) many times over the years—but it seems to me more constructive to criticize the exaggerations, or to criticize each argument on its own merits, than to denounce any and all claims of sexism in WoT in one fell swoop.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (14 MARCH)

    The "Blatantly Wrong" comment was for those who don't really know feminist theory or gender studies, and who were commenting that sexist characters and culture implied a sexist Robert Jordan. I thought better of it later, however, for the people who actually know what they're talking about. Hence the more scholarly comment directed toward people like yourself. I do not deny that there are things to talk about here. Remember, just like with the word "Racism," there are two meanings of the word "Sexist." There is the knee-jerk usage by people who intend it as an insult. And then there is the more thoughtful, careful usage by people who make a study of such things. In their hands, 'sexist' means showing one's biases and a lack of awareness of certain aspects of male privilege or gender sensitivity—using this word to describe someone is not an insult, but a description of bias. (The types of biases that we all have, and can't totally expunge—though we be aware of and try to compensate for them.) My first comment was directed at the first crowd; my second comment at the second crowd.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    For the record, I'm hardly well-read in feminist theory. I've read far more in queer theory (and most of it since then, for unrelated reasons), and queer theory is often tied up with feminist theory, but even there I'm far from an expert, and so my familiarity with feminist theory is along the lines of a vague acquaintance. I understand the distinction Brandon is making, and it's a good one, but I don't think of it as having much to do with feminist theory.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (20 MARCH)

    And, looks like I have Twitter on my flight again this time. So much for getting anything useful done...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Re: NMN. I'll give you this point in regards to Rhuidean. No good reason for Aviendha to be nude when Rand/Mat don't have to be.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    As for the Aes Sedai ceremonies, they still feel very similar to sacred feminine ceremonies I've read before.

    TEREZ

    Sure, but most of the female nudity comes in the sweat tents and baths, etc. Though the baths in Fal Dara were egalitarian.

    TEREZ

    The descriptions of how Aviendha squats in the sweat tent, for instance, are really quite vulgar if you think about it.

    TEREZ

    But you don't see anything like that in the bath scene at Baerlon, for example. And even ritual nudity can get vulgar...

    TEREZ

    ...like Amys at the sister-bonding ceremony in Winter's Heart. I mean, come on.

    JAMES POWELL

    There's certainly lots o female iffy WoT nudity, but also quite a lot of male nudity—especially Rand being ogled.

    TEREZ

    Yeah, Rand does get ogled once at least. But it's a matter of balance in my opinion.

    TEREZ

    Greatest Cadsuane line ever: 'I’ve already seen more of your hairless bottomcheeks than I wish to...'

    TEREZ

    '....but if you want to flaunt them in front of all six of us, perhaps someone will enjoy the show.' :)

    JAMES POWELL

    I'm not saying that the nudity issue is balanced—clearly, it's not. But at least some effort was being made.

    TEREZ

    Yeah, @BrandSanderson and I have gone round a bit on this already. We all recognize that some effort was made. Just saying...

    TEREZ

    ...that these things were the product of RJ's heterosexual male preferences, and therefore inherently sexist.

    SETH BAKER

    Based largely upon the male characters being prudes. Doesn't that cut the other way for M/F sexual experience?

    TEREZ

    Not really, since the root cause is still RJ's brain. And Mat. Is far from a prude.

    TEREZ

    But we're at the same time not trying to make RJ out to be particularly sexist. He wasn't, especially for his Age.

    JAMES POWELL

    *nods* I'm more saddened by the almost complete lack of gay WoT characters—but that's just my personal bias.

    TEREZ

    No, it's not just your personal bias. It was RJ's. If there hadn't been lesbians you probably wouldn't care, eh?

    JAMES POWELL

    I actually found the whole issue of some women being "pillow friends", but then growing out of it and mooning over men, quite off.

    TEREZ

    Right, and the fact that the ones who don't grow out of it are for the most part evil bitches.

    LIRA LEIRNER

    There are SOME implications of being gay being equally as normal, as outlined here http://ow.ly/4imXS

    TEREZ

    Oh, we know. But it's a half-hearted implication. Not even close to half really...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Well, at least there wasn't the "Gay=pedophile" implication that some fantasy of the era made...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Of course, being Mormon, perhaps I'm not the best qualified to speak of someone's treatment of LGBT issues.

    LUCKERS

    Are you sure the nudity doesn't play a practical role in the ter'angreal? I note that in both the...

    LUCKERS

    ...Accepted rings and the final test the woman must be nude. Strange, two separate rituals taking the same form.

    LIRA

    And Moiraine, too. I think it's probably the rings. The other testing ter'angreal all require nakedness.

    LIRA LEIRNER

    Aviendha doesn't have to be naked when she goes through the columns. Although I thought they could have told...

    LIRA LEIRNER

    ...them to take off their clothes once they're in Rhuidean; don't see needing to taking them off before.

    TEREZ

    It's not a requirement of the ter'angreal according to them, but a sign of station (humbling).

    TEREZ

    Also, with Aviendha, there was the practical aspect of giving up her cadin'sor.

    TEREZ

    It's the same with the raisings at the Tower—they never wear those clothes again if I remember correctly.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    I suspected I was half wrong when I posted this, and I was—the Accepted get their new dresses right after the test, but in New Spring, Moiraine and Siuan wore their Accepted dresses to swear the Oaths.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I think Terez's argument is that women end up in these situations suspiciously more often than men.

    TEREZ

    Essentially yes. And that the description is more gratuitous. RJ could have chosen to write male nudity rituals.

    LUCKERS

    Mmm. True, but as I've argued in the past re: lack of gay men—we've been more exposed to all female...

    LUCKERS

    ...organisations and rituals. the one exception, I suppose, is the sweat tents, but again that occurred...

    LUCKERS

    ...organically. The Wise Ones were planning, and the sweat tents provided a social medium.

    LUCKERS

    By the way, my original point was simply that Moiraine and Aviendha's nudity may have served a practical purpose...

    LUCKERS

    ...when going through the ter'angreal—Mat and Rand didn't go through that ter'angreal after all.

    LUCKERS

    It's strange that the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones separately built nudity rituals around similar ter'angreal. Necessary?

    TEREZ

    Organically? You say that as if the scene wrote itself. RJ chose to use female sweat tent scenes, female nudity.

    TEREZ

    Even if the nudity does have a practical purpose that doesn't change the fact that he chose to write it that way.

    TEREZ

    He chose to develop the female organizations, and he chose to show lesbians outside those organizations rather than men.

    LUCKERS

    He chose to write the scene with Rand naked and being eyed by a dozen women too. So what?

    TEREZ

    Again, it's about balance. The 'suspiciously more often' bit. I feel you are being overly defensive about it.

    LUCKERS

    Are we to presume he did it lasciviously? To titillate? This is what I meant by it happening organically.

    LUCKERS

    I'm not being defensive—rather I don't see the problem. The female nudity was never vulgar... it just was.

    TEREZ

    As I said, it's clear enough he just enjoyed writing about naked women and lesbians more than he enjoyed...

    TEREZ

    ....writing about naked men and gay men. It's fanservice, but I don't think he thought of it like that.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've got to side with Terez on this one. It IS there. RJ did a LOT of things with great equality, but...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    ...when it came to nudity, he liked showing naked women more than men. I don't think it was vulgar, though.

    TEREZ

    Depends on your definition of vulgar. RJ was very good at avoiding vulgarity on the surface, but hinting at it.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    I had this scene from The Fires of Heaven in mind, and it sums up many tweets I made on the subject which were omitted:

    Moiraine, seeming slight and small beside the others, also looked unruffled, although sweat rolled down her pale nudity and slicked her dark hair to her scalp, with a regal refusal to acknowledge that she had no clothes on. The Wise Ones were using slim, curved pieces of bronze, called staera, to scrape off sweat and the day's dirt.

    Aviendha was squatting sweatily beside the big black kettle of hot, sooty rocks in the middle of the tent, carefully using a pair of tongs to move a last stone from a smaller kettle to the larger. That done, she sprinkled water onto the rocks from a gourd, adding to the steam. If she let the steam fall too far, she would be spoken to sharply at the very least. The next time the Wise Ones met in the sweat tent, it would be Egwene's turn to tend the rocks.

    Egwene cautiously sat down cross-legged next to Bair—instead of layered rugs, there was only rocky ground, unpleasantly hot, lumpy and damp—and realized with a shock that Aviendha had been switched, and recently. When the Aiel woman gingerly took her own place, beside Egwene, she did so with a face as stony as the ground, but a face that could not hide her flinch.

    To call these descriptions 'gratuitous' is, of course, only in comparison to RJ's (incredibly rare) treatments of male nudity (and not in comparison to, say, GRRM).

    LUCKERS

    @BrandSanderson I still think that implies a little too much premeditation in the depiction, but I'm happy with your description.

    LUCKERS

    I'm not denying its presence, I'm denying the implications that the depiction is wrong. It flowed naturally...

    LUCKERS

    ...from the plot, and wasn't lascivious. I certainly don't think RJ worked to include it.

    LUCKERS

    Besides... if you wanna have a gay male character in A Memory of Light I'd not complain. :)

    TEREZ

    Okay then. Do you think that RJ's insistence that there be no male nudity in the films was 'organic'?

    Footnote—Terez

    I was wrong about the film distinction, though I do believe there is an older report somewhere mentioning this that I am missing. However, there is a 'no male nudity' tag for all the times RJ mentioned it at signings; it was a running joke for him.

    TEREZ

    That is where this little debate started, because it is essentially the proof of the point.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Ha. Well (though I'm on your side) it could be argued that's a marketing decision.

    TEREZ

    LOL. Many things could be argued. Some arguments are more logical than others, though. :)

    LUCKERS

    I didn't know about this insistence. That's a little... weird, honestly. No, ok, a lot weird.

    TEREZ

    See, if you had actually read my debate with @BrandSanderson we wouldn't have to catch you up. ;)

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It's cultural, unfortunately. You can have female nudity and get a PG-13. But not male. Of course, that...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    ...leads us to the whole topfreedom debate, which ISN'T something I really want to get into.

    TEREZ

    It doesn't necessarily lead there. Again, I bring it up mostly for cultural awareness reasons.

    LUCKERS

    That's really stupid—but does make some sense. Also, I don't know if you remember Terez but for a while there were...

    LUCKERS

    ...some fairly rampant pockets of homophobia amongst the fandom—I had this discussion with @zemaille at WorldCon.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    I had the same discussion with Linda before Luckers did, at the previous JordanCon. I think she was a little shocked by the number of people at tor.com who refuse to even recognize that pillow friends are lesbians.

    TEREZ

    There still are. It's mostly visible at tor.com—some staunch conservatives there.

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    Oh yeah!

    TEREZ

    Which is unfortunate considering Leigh's views. There is a ruckus every time she brings it up.

    LUCKERS

    *nods* And as sad as it is to think that RJ was wary of this—it's reasonable to avoid alienating your fans.

    TEREZ

    Well, if he was trying to avoid alienating THOSE fans he wouldn't have included lesbians either.

    LUCKERS

    Mmm. Lesbians have always been the safer homosexual depiction—which says a lot about our society.

    SETH BAKER

    In the end, you're indicting modern Western society, not RJ himself. He knew what you can't do and sell.

    TEREZ

    The first bit, yes. The second bit...I don't think that marketing was his only motive.

    SETH BAKER

    There're people who are not morally opposed to homosexuality, are fine with reading FF, but not MM for what it's worth.

    TEREZ

    And that is exactly the problem that is being addressed. Not judging RJ so much as ourselves.

    LUCKERS

    I hesitate to ask—but what's topfreedom? My mind went to an icky place. :S

    TEREZ

    LOL. I imagine it has to do with the fact that men can go shirtless but women can't.

    LUCKERS

    OH! That's... much nicer than what I was thinking. Hehe.

    LUCKERS

    I will say this, though—the complete lack of any sort of hetero-normative assumption in WoT gets RJ my vote.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I wish this plane would let me use Tweetlonger to jump into this with more teeth.

    TEREZ

    Feel free to jump in with teeth later. We're not going anywhere. :)

    LUCKERS

    Yes. More teeth would be awesome! But we aren't going anywhere.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    This whole issue—homosexuality, conservatism, and the WoT—deserves a serious, thoughtful post.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I just can't do that in 100 character bursts.

    TEREZ

    Cool. I am looking forward to it.

    LUCKERS

    I respect that Brandon. Still, post what you want—we understand it's not your full argument.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I will say that there IS a gay male in Towers of Midnight, placed there on my part as I felt similar to you on this issue.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I was going to tell you who it was, but figuring this out is the sort of thing you guys love, isn't it?

    TEREZ

    YAY! But of course, then you have to be careful not to make him too throw-away....

    TEREZ

    I considered Androl earlier, when I considered you might do this. lol. But I will think on it some more.

    LUCKERS

    Oh. Hey! Awesome. Ok, now we have to figure it out.

    LUCKERS

    Hopefully not Denezel or Hatch—their wives would be furious. :D

    FOOTNOTE

    Jason Denzel and Matt Hatch, webmasters of Dragonmount and Theoryland respectively—they were recognized as innkeepers in Towers of Midnight.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I'll note that references to his sexuality were cut merely because I moved the chapter with mention to A Memory of Light.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I won't say if it's a new character or one I made a decision on, since there weren't notes either way.

    TEREZ

    And he seems to have ruled out Moridin, alas. But that would be sort of Dumbledore-y anyway.

    TEREZ

    (And yes, I have read @BrandSanderson's thoughts on Dumbledore. Just saying. And we're not talking kids' books here.)

    LUCKERS

    I'm beginning to think it somewhat strange that I'm the one defending RJ the heaviest given your points...

    LUCKERS

    ... and the fact that I'm gay. Does that mean my loyalty to RJ defies reason, or that I'm so used to accepting...

    LUCKERS

    ...the dribbles that are depictions of homosexuality in fantasy? A disturbing thought.

    TEREZ

    Nah, not weird at all. You're pretty anti-activist in a lot of ways. Overcompensation, of course. ;)

    TEREZ

    I believe you are sensitive to the right-wing idea of the Gay Agenda.

    TEREZ

    So you seem to have a reluctance to champion your own causes too loudly, internally as well as externally.

    TEREZ

    In some ways it's a healthy reluctance. In some ways, it's sad that it is necessary.

    LUCKERS

    Well the gays are plotting world domination—we discussed this in our last High Council. But that's another conversation.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    You have good reason to defend him, Luckers. There ARE good examples. Arrela is one.

    TEREZ

    Seonid isn't bad either. Right? :D I think they might have been responses to the criticism.

    LUCKERS

    *nods* Arrela's love was beautiful. And your scene in The Gathering Storm was heartbreaking.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, gay men are few and far between. But it could be much worse. See: Eddings, or worse, Goodkind and Newcomb.

    SETH BAKER

    I'm with you on that. I got bored reading Goodkind because of how annoyingly ANTI-PC it was.

    SETH BAKER

    In the end, I want my stories to refrain from editorializing. Tell the story, and tell it to your audience.

    BRANDON

    Goodkind is...well, let's not go there. It's good, sometimes, to be anti-PC, as the world isn't PC.

    BRANDON

    But if you're going to delve in and editorialize, I believe it important to look at the other side too.

    TEREZ

    I haven't read Newcomb, but yes, Goodkind's inclusion was of the worst sort.

    TEREZ

    Again, few people think RJ is all bad on this. But the fact that we are so appreciative of his rather biased...

    TEREZ

    ...and gratuitous inclusion shows how far behind we are as a society.

    BRANDON

    Ha. Terez, you NEED to read Newcomb. If only because I want to see your head explode when you do.

    TEREZ

    LOL. Well, I will bring it along to JordanCon then, so you can observe. ;)

    BRANDON

    It is an incredible experience. Goodkind times 1000 in the anti-feminist department. And it seems unconscious.

    LUCKERS

    Goodkind disturbs me on more levels than that, but I do take your point—it was what I meant by accepting dribbles.

    BRANDON

    The thing is, [RJ] tried. And in the end, that's the most important thing can ask. The second is that they listen.

    BRANDON

    And I do think RJ listened. I think he grew more sensitive on this subject as time passed.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    RJ was in many ways very responsive to fan criticism, but he seemed to play the Eelfinn in that he liked to make jokes out of granting our wishes. A good example: Fans complained that characters never had to use a privy while in POV. RJ added a couple of references (including an 'if you must know' from Tuon), and he even threw in urine-tasting in Crossroads of Twilight. Clearly that was RJ getting a laugh on us. He made passing mention of male homosexuality in a couple of the later books (including New Spring), and while it wasn't quite a balance for his lesbians, it was an improvement. He also made public statements that homosexuality was all around not a big deal in Randland, for either gender. He made it clear that, in general, writing about male sexuality was just a squick for him, but he tended to be rather open and modern about his sexuality (even in the family-friendly context of WoT) and so the gender bias sticks out to many modern readers.

    TEREZ

    Agreed, as I noted before re: the response to criticism. Again, it's more about us than about him.

    LUCKERS

    Interesting thought—about listening and changing. Kind of beautiful as well—that fans can give back to authors.

    LUCKERS

    That RJ touched on it at all was good—especially when we remember when he was writing these books.

    LUCKERS

    It does well to remember just how much the degree to which homosexuality is depicted has changed recently.

    TEREZ

    This is true. I just feel that now is the time to blow it out of the water, for that very reason.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I'm curious if either of you read Rose of the Prophet, and what you thought of it. (Because of the gay male character.)

    TEREZ

    hmm, nope, haven't heard of it. I was told Deathgate was the only thing by [Weis and Hickman] worth reading.

    FOOTNOTE—TEREZ

    To explain, I rarely find myself overly desirous of reading new books since WoT occupies so much of my time these days, so I tend to go by friend recommendations and not worry much about whether or not I would actually agree.

    LUCKERS

    Do you guys realise how much Rand's early arc resonates with a gay teenager?

    LUCKERS

    A young man who—through no choice of his own—finds himself to be something hated and feared.

    LUCKERS

    Something judged to be morally wrong though no moral choice has been made on his part.

    LUCKERS

    The whole arc—the 'men's pride, men's sin' resonated very heavily with me.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    That's FASCINATING, honestly. I'd never thought of that.

    TEREZ

    I bet RJ never thought of it either. :D But yes, it's a good comparison in many ways.

    LUCKERS

    All of this is why I never liked Mat in my first readings (when i was like 13). His reaction to Rand was...

    LUCKERS

    ...a little to close to home. And no I haven't read [Rose of the Prophet]—I will now though. (sorry for going on this tangent).

    LUCKERS

    It doesn't really matter to me if RJ meant the comparison—that he depicted something similar with such...

    LUCKERS

    ...visceral realism is the value of a great writer, because then the fans can take what they need from it.

    LUCKERS

    And in truth Rand's arc in dealing with it taught me how to. In fact its one of the reasons I love Cadsuane...

    TEREZ

    Because Cadsuane was Rand's faghag? No wait, that was Min! No, she was his beard...

    LUCKERS

    She doesn't feel sorry for Rand, or try to coddle him—she treats him like she would any other person...

    LUCKERS

    Her refusal to let Rand allow circumstance to victimize him was a powerful and subtle theme.

    TEREZ

    Indeed, that's why I like her. And why most people hate her. Because she should respect his authoritay!

    LUCKERS

    And I think it is the greatest service anyone in the books has done him. Even if Rand couldn't appreciate it.

    LUCKERS

    Re: Parallels between Rand's early arc and being gay...[from The Great Hunt]

    "No, I can't. I mean . . . I didn't do it on purpose. It just happened. I don't want to—to channel the Power. I won't ever do it again. I swear it."

    "You don't want to," the Amyrlin Seat said. "Well, that's wise of you. And foolish, too. Some can be taught to channel; most cannot. A few, though, have the seed in them at birth. Sooner or later, they wield the One Power whether they want to or not, as surely as roe makes fish. You will continue to channel, boy. You can't help it. And you had better learn to channel, learn to control it, or you will not live long enough to go mad. The One Power kills those who cannot control its flow."

    "How am I supposed to learn?" he demanded. Moiraine and Verin just sat there, unruffled, watching him. Like spiders. "How? Moiraine claims she can't teach me anything, and I don't know how to learn, or what. I don't want to, anyway. I want to stop. Can't you understand that? To stop!"—Chapter 8, 'The Dragon Reborn'

    That desperation is something I remember. Then this...

    He paused, frowning, thinking things through. Finally, he said quietly, "Rand, can you channel?" Mat gave a strangled gasp. Rand let the banner drop; he hesitated only a moment before nodding wearily. "I did not ask for it. I don't want it. But. . . . But I do not think I know how to stop it."

    —and finally...

    Mat hesitated, looking sideways at Rand. "Look, I know you came along to help me, and I am grateful. I really am. But you just are not the same anymore. You understand that, don't you?" He waited as if he expected an answer. None came. Finally he vanished into the trees, back toward the camp.—Chapter 11, 'Glimmers of the Pattern'

    Potent scenes. Especially Mat's last lines. *shrug*

    TEREZ

    Yeah, I knew exactly what you were talking about as soon as you mentioned it. Perrin isn't much better.

    TEREZ

    Perrin is just not as thoughtlessly hurtful as Mat is. He's more the silent disapproval type.

    LUCKERS

    Though Perrin does realise the hypocrisy, and feel bad, so I didn't mind so much. :)

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    Yes, I appreciated Perrin's sympathy and tact—like when he said Rand is now a dreaded figure.

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    For instance he suggested that while running was understandable, it might not be possible.

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    Of course, Perrin is coming to terms with being a werewolf, so understandable he knows how Rand feels.

    LUCKERS

    And with Perrin the parallel stops—Rand is a genuine threat, whereas homosexuality isn't.

    LINDA TAGLIERI

    Both Perrin and Rand loathe themselves because they feel they are a threat to society.

    LUCKERS

    Just got a rather abrupt tweet from someone who I think thought I was implying Rand was gay.

    LUCKERS

    Which clearly is accurate. The Harem are the red herring to end all red herrings.

    TEREZ

    LOL. Yeah, well...ignorance and prejudice go hand in hand (or so they say). ;)

    TEREZ

    You know you're gay when you need THREE beards to maintain your cover.

    LUCKERS

    Lol!

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    And...half of my in-flight WoT reread time was sucked up by a great Twitter conversation about gender and LGBT issues in the WoT.

    TEREZ

    Ohhhh, blame it on us will you! :p You knew as soon as you saw you had Twitter you weren't getting any work done. ;)

    LUCKERS

    Haha. Yeah—I've written a hundred and fifty words in three hours. Today was gonna be my productive day too. *sigh*/

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I have a new goal: to get Terez and Leigh Butler to do a feminist review of Newcomb's Fifth Sorceress for Tor.com. How can I make this happen?

    PETER AHLSTROM

    Sadist.

    TEREZ

    LOL. If you can talk Leigh into it, I'm so down with that.

    LUCKERS

    Lol. A gay, a feminist and a Mormon walk into a bar—whereupon they have a deep and meaningful conversation about sexuality in WoT. #NoJokes

    TEREZ

    LMAO. It's funny, though...I don't really think of myself as a feminist. Just an equalist.

    LUCKERS

    I was just being funny with the no jokes thing—the reality of us three having that conversation struck me.

    TEREZ

    Not to mention, you were raised Catholic, and I was raised Southern Baptist. Now we need a Muslim...

    Tags

  • 20

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Fast Forward

    One of the things I found particularly affecting in this latest book—I enjoy the major characters, I've followed the major characters through six volumes. But there are certain scenes that really strike me as being very real and very personal. For example, in the middle of the book, Mat—who has been sent on a particular mission by Rand—meets a young boy named Olver?

    Robert Jordan

    Uh-Huh.

    Fast Forward

    And their meeting, where as Mat is talking to him, Olver is showing him his possessions: his little cache of coins, the game his father has made for him, and his red hawk's feather and his turtle shell.

    Robert Jordan

    Um-Hum.

    Fast Forward

    That was a very personal moment, that was a very real, very human moment.

    Robert Jordan

    I try to make it so.

    Fast Forward

    Which you don't see a lot in some fantasy. That one, and Rand's looking into the face of one of the maidens after she has died protecting him from an attack. Memorizing her face and name because he has vowed to memorize the face and name of all the maidens who had sworn to give their lives to protect him. Let's talk about that scene in particular, I'm curious about it. You had two tours in Vietnam, you've had military experience, you're a graduate of The Citadel. Does something like that particularly come out of the people you've met in the military and the kinds of personalities you met in the military, do you draw any of that kind of thing from that?

    Robert Jordan

    Some of it. I suppose, actually, that particular thing came from the only time I was really shaken in combat in shooting at somebody, or shooting AT somebody. I had to, uh, I was shooting back at some people on a sampan and a woman came out and pulled up an AK-47, and I didn't hesitate about shooting her. But that stuck with me. I was raised in a very old-fashioned sort of way. You don't hurt women—you don't DO that. That's the one thing that stuck with me for a long, long time.

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  • 21

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Fast Forward

    And that resonates in Perrin's fighting his way toward Rand in the climatic scene in this battle. He basically refuses to think of them as males or females, because if he thought of the person in front of him, trying to kill him, as a female—because there is a mixture of both in the group they are fighting—he wouldn't be able to proceed, and he'd end up being killed. So he has to blank that out of his mind so he can be purely reactive. So it's almost a repeat of that.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, in a way it is. It's something that comes out of the way they think. And it fits with the society, as well, as it's been devised. Three thousand years ago men destroyed the world. In effect, O.K. it was the male Aes Sedai, but it was MEN that did it. For three thousand years the world has been afraid of men who can channel. You have that sort of history, and women are going to have power, women are going to have influence and prestige. There is not going to be the same sort of subjugation of women you find in other cultures in our world. Given that, and given the fact that men are, quite simply, stronger than women. There's no two ways about it, on the average man is stronger than woman.

    Fast Forward

    We're talking physically stronger.

    Robert Jordan

    Right. Physically stronger. It's going to be, in many cases, a very strong cultural prohibition against a man using that strength against a woman. It seemed to me to fit very well with the way the cultures are set up.

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  • 22

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    What do fans tell you they like so much about your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    It's a different thing for every person.

    Interviewer

    Really?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes.

    Interviewer

    What do the women like?

    Robert Jordan

    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.

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  • 23

    Interview: Jun 17th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    The story of TWoT evolved during a very long period, in part beginning in the middle of the seventies with the idea of the Breaking of the World, before he found the "final scene in the final book" and began to actually write The Eye of the World. The main impetus from the beginning was the notion of "men breaking the world" (my emphasis), and that men able to channel must be killed, controlled or stopped at all costs for 3,000 years. This led naturally to a society where women had great power and respect.

    As an example of this, he puts forth Davram Bashere's reaction to Faile being a Hunter of the Horn. His initial negative response does not come from that Faile is a girl, but that she only is 17 years old. Her gender is irrelevant to the issue.

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  • 24

    Interview: Jun 16th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    First, the question of Hake's inn in The Eye of the World is answered: it is not a whorehouse, at least not more than any other inn. :-) Due to the increase in women's power, the very concept of prostitution is unknown; but women have much greater freedom in choosing their partners, both casual and permanent. He specifically mentioned Mat's little escapades with various maids and serving-girls.

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  • 25

    Interview: Apr 5th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    Not all Red Ajah are misandrists. Jordan said that not all members of the Red Ajah are rabid men-haters, but pointed out that they will tend to develop a dislike/distrust for men as part of their job. To be Red Ajah means that your primary mission is to capture and gentle channeling males, so all men become potential enemies. After having this outlook for several decades, it will be hard to have a normal relationship with men.

    FOOTNOTE—BILL GARRETT

    My Comment: Something that I would personally like to add to this discussion is that all Aes Sedai believe in the importance of stopping male channelers, but the Reds are those who consider it more important than anything else they can do with their talents. This will tend to attract women who dislike men.

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  • 26

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Are there sheer, just logistical problems of having such a large cast that you're really directing traffic for hundreds of characters? Do you have to keep a chart as you go along to keep track of who is where and what action is happening?

    Robert Jordan

    I keep incredible quantities of notes. It's all on hard disk and on floppies, hard disks on several of my computers. But if I printed it all out, I would imagine that the notes would be equal in volume to the manuscripts for the seven books—six books that I've finished so far, seventh that I'm working on. It's really an incredible amount of notes. I'm sometimes surprised at it myself. It's broken down for each of the major characters, and for each nation and the cities. Small things, like music or food. Also, sort of, there are general categories, such as . . . one of the things that I start off with in the beginning is where is every single major character? All the major characters, all the people I've touched on: where are they at the beginning of this book? Even if they weren't mentioned in the last book and aren't going to be mentioned in this book, I still want to know where they are. And what have they been doing since we last saw them?

    Dave Slusher

    With such a large cast, you gain certain things. Does it cost you a little intimacy? If it was one book, focused on one person, strictly in their head, you would be a little more intimate.

    Robert Jordan

    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.

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  • 27

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Since you had mentioned the characterization of women in the books: now this book has, as opposed to some of the older fantasy of the last forty years, you have women, very strong women in positions of power, in positions of combat. Is that something that wouldn't have happened if you were writing these books in the past? Is that kind of a product of our times?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it's a product of growing up with strong women. All of the women I knew growing up were quite strong. All of the men I knew growing up were quite strong because any of the weak men got shredded and thrown aside. So it made for a certain viewpoint, a certain outlook in life.

    Aside from that, the basic premise of the books, that 3000 years before the time of the books the world was essentially destroyed. The details don't really matter in the context of this interview, except for the fact that that destruction was caused by men, members of the male sex. A world that has grown out of that has to have a great deal of power for women, especially when the world has spent the last 3000 years being afraid of any man who has the ability to channel the One Power. You have to have a world where women have power. That's the way it's going to evolve. It can't go any other way. It's only a question of how much power they have.

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  • 28

    Interview: Apr 5th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    In Ebou Dar, if a woman kills a man, it is justified unless proven otherwise.

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  • 29

    Interview: Apr 5th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    Red Ajah: Not all of them are rabid man-haters. There are some moderates. However, as a Red, whose primary mission is to stop channeling by males, one must view all men as potential enemies. This makes it hard to have any kind of normal relationship with men, "especially after 20, 30, 50, 100 years of such a mentality." (note the "100 years")

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  • 30

    Interview: Apr 5th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    How learning to use the One Power works: The older you are, the faster you reach your full potential. Men reach their full strength faster than women. Forced training makes you learn faster, but it is very dangerous—it can kill you, or burn you out. The Asha'man are being trained that way, and the casualties of the training show this. (X number dead, Y number burned out...) Egwene, and Elayne and Nynaeve have also experienced forced training.

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  • 31

    Interview: Jun 21st, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    RJ wrote the Mat/Tylin scenario as a humorous role-reversal thing. His editor, and wife, thought it was a good discussion of sexual harassment and rape with comic undertones. She liked it because it dealt with very serious issues in a humorous way. She seemed to think it would be a good way to explain to men/boys what this can be like for women/girls, showing the fear, etc.

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  • 32

    Interview: Jun 21st, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    All the women are based in part on his wife. Many women have been amazed that he was not a woman using a male pen name because he writes women so well. He just wrote them as he thought women would be if men had destroyed the world 3000 years ago. Obviously, their roles would be much different than they are in our society. The women are not based on Southern women in general, just his wife.

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  • 33

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Hopper

    I find your characterization of the relationships between the male and female characters to be interesting, and amusing. Did you model Nynaeve after an older sister or other female that tortured you in your youth? :)

    Robert Jordan

    All of the women are modeled in one way or another after the conglomerate of women I've met in my life...but every single one of them, EVERY one of them, has some element of my wife in her. I won't say what elements are in what characters, we'd get too far afield...I will say it has nothing to do with torture in that particular case.

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  • 34

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Eric Ligner

    I like your use of strong female characters. Was there any inspiration for this?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I grew up in a family of strong women. Most of the women I knew growing up were quite strong. I very early on realized that—well, it seemed natural, this is how I saw the world. There were strong women and strong men and when weak men came along they were ridden over. But the fact that there were strong women didn't mean no strong men. Again, it's a given, there had to be a balance.

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  • 35

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Jeff Jarrell

    What made you decide to make male Aes Sedai go insane versus female Aes Sedai using magic somewhat safely?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm not sure about the last of that question, but this was part of the basis, the foundation of the story. If women had gone insane using the power and not men, it would be a much different world, a much different story, and not the story I was interested in writing!

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  • 36

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Charles Dockens Jr.

    Your female characters have so much feeling and emotion. How do you accomplish this as a male author?

    Robert Jordan

    With difficulty. I'll tell you, when I was about four years old, I was picked up by a friend of my mother and she hugged me, she was wearing a soft, silky summer dress, and her perfume smelled life. And as she put me down, my face slipped between her breasts, and throughout the experience, I was thinking, "this is wonderful, this feels wonderful". And though I was four I found I wanted to spend my life observing these fascinating people, and I've learned that they look different, they feel different, they are different, and I've put all this into the books.

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  • 37

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ryssgarde

    You approach the issues of sex, love and the like with all of your characters while maintaining an almost virginal perspective and yet there is a GREAT deal of nudity throughout the novels. No problem with this but when are Rand and Mat and Perrin going to stop thinking the other has the upper hand?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm not sure that they ever will. Who knows? It seems to me to be a very human thing in dealing with the opposite sex at least to think that somebody else knows more about it than you do. You might swagger and put on a surface belief of "well, I have that nailed!" but I think for most people, there's a little voice in the back saying, "God, he really does know how to handle women, doesn't he?" or "God, she really does know all about men!"

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  • 38

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    How do you feel about women being admitted to The Citadel?

    Robert Jordan

    In the first place, I do wish that the school had been able to remain all male, but the fact is, women are in The Citadel, and as far as I'm concerned, it's time to get on with the business at hand and stop grousing about what's past.

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  • 39

    Interview: Oct 12th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    Vietnam/Rand's "No Kill Woman" Thing

    RJ vividly described an experience he had in Vietnam where he killed a female Viet Cong. He said he simply spotted a figure holding a weapon and fired on it, then "acquired the next target." He then realized that he had killed a woman—the first (and I believe only) time he's done that. This provides an obvious basis for Rand's "Achilles' Heel." (I thought he should have offed both the Tower Aes Sedai in the beginning of A Crown of Swords and Lanfear earlier, but I'm rude like that.)

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  • 40

    Interview: Oct 9th, 1996

    Question

    When Birgitte says she remembers a tale of a female Warder after being bonded to Elayne, does she remember herself?

    Robert Jordan

    RAFO.

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  • 41

    Interview: Oct 9th, 1996

    Question

    You might also want to ask him about the sexual preferences of Galina, Bain and Chiad. :-)

    Robert Jordan

    *chuckle* RAFO.

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  • 42

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Lana Trezise from Columbia, MO

    A recurring motif in the Wheel of Time series is the differences between men and women. Why did you decide to make this such an important feature in your writings, and why do you take such a bipolar view on gender?

    Robert Jordan

    I became fascinated with women at the age of three. It's a long story—too long to go into here. But I quickly realized that for everything that was the same about men and women, there seemed to be at least two or three things that were different. Once I had decided that I wanted to use the One Power in the way that I was using it—that is divided into a male half and a female half—it became obvious to me that the differences between men and women themselves should also play a part.

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  • 43

    Interview: Oct 24th, 1998

    Chris Mullins

    I asked RJ, at the Palo Alto signing, if Moghedien was raped by Shadar Haran in A Crown of Swords.

    Robert Jordan

    His reply was, "Yes. Amongst other things."

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  • 44

    Interview: Oct 24th, 1998

    Drew Gillmore

    Chris used his moment with the Creator to open himself up to a huge RAFO, but his question was answered. Chris asked if Moghedien had been raped by Shaidar Haran.

    Robert Jordan

    The answer was "Yes, among other things."...

    ...Another interesting point that may just be my interpretation of things, is that someone asked if Lanfear had been raped as well, right on top of the Moghedien question, and he answered right away with a "No". It could be any number of explanations, but it seemed to me that it was a given that Cyndane was Lanfear from the context of the conversation.

    Like I said, just my interpretation.

    Someone else who was paying more attention could fill in here.

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  • 45

    Interview: Oct 24th, 1998

    Drew Gillmore

    I don't remember most of the other questions. A couple of interesting things I do remember, however:

    Robert Jordan

    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.

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  • 46

    Interview: Oct 24th, 1998

    Justin Howell

    I asked why Elayne thought even a Forsaken couldn't break the shield Adeleas and Vandene were holding on Ispan, expecting the answer that Elayne is clue-impaired.

    Robert Jordan

    The correct answer is that holding a shield on someone depends not only on relative strength and fatigue, but also on whether the shield is held by channelers of the same sex as the victim. Thus two women (Adeleas and Vandene on Ispan, or Ispan and Falion on Nynaeve in A Crown of Swords) can hold another woman, but three women just get severed if they try to shield Rand. As a curiosity, it is also possible for multiple people to hold a shield without linking, but this is less strong and less precise, producing basically a layered shield.

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  • 47

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    DrewofWotism

    I am curious to find out why there are no male Dreamwalkers mentioned since according to the Wise Ones it is not connected to the One Power.

    Robert Jordan

    Simply because it's a talent that appears very rarely among men. The Wise Ones are doubtful that there actually can be a male Dreamwalker. One of the themes of the book is that no one knows everything there is to know. Another is that just because you believe something to be true, doesn't mean that it is true.

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  • 48

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Linda

    We see a lot of characters making estimates about how strong such and such a channeler is or will be, but when we're talking about so far unfulfilled potential, how accurately can it be judged? Especially if the channeler making the judgement doesn't know how much training the channeler being judged previously has had?

    Robert Jordan

    Someone can judge a current strength. This differs between men and women. A woman that can channel can [make a] very accurate judgement of another woman's strength whether she is channeling or not if she is standing close enough. Among Aes Sedai at least, knowledge of potential strength, especially if it is thought to be a great strength, becomes very widespread. Among men the circumstances are different. A man who can channel cannot judge the strength of another unless the other is channeling the One Power or holding the One Power, and even then all he can judge is how much of the One Power the other man is holding. He can't say how much he can hold. There are great differences between men and women in the One Power.

    Footnote

    Rand noted in Lord of Chaos that it is possible to tell if a man is straining (that is, holding as much as he can), and Logain reiterated the point in Knife of Dreams.

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  • 49

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Slayer

    I noticed how there are many similarities between the WOT and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Is this on purpose, or do great minds just think alike?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it's not on purpose, though I don't know about great minds. Lord of the Rings has more dissimilarities than similarities to my series. I have no elves, no unicorns, no dragons. Tolkien wrote from a distinctly English viewpoint and voice about myths and legends that came from England. I write in an American voice, in fact a distinctly southern voice, about myths and legends that come from every country represented by the population of the US. And then there's the role played by women...there are only two women in Lord of the Rings....women tell half the story in WOT! There are other differences, and I sometimes find it hard to see the similarities.

    Footnote

    RJ stated in other interviews that he wrote the first part of The Eye of the World to be somewhat reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, as a sort of homage to Tolkien.

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  • 50

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    jude74

    Are you married? Children? Grandchildren? lol

    Robert Jordan

    I am married, to Harriet. Who is also my editor! And who, as everyone out there knows, is the source of at least one major characteristic of each of the major female characters in the books. And one son, William, who is a graphic designer, artist, writer, who just quit his job at Sony because he was tired at being stifled, and I told him to go for it, for Gods' sakes.

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  • 51

    Interview: Nov 18th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    Gender/soul rebirth he said is best illustrated by Mat and Birgitte. But he then said that there was more to it than that. Not sure what he meant exactly. Probably the point.

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  • 52

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    I grew up around strong women; weak men were pickled and salted. The women wouldn't waste time raising a weak boy.

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  • 53

    Interview: Aug 27th, 1999

    Robert Jordan

    Someone asked if the Dragon is always male, and he told them to Read And Find Out.

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  • 54

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    Are you going to resurrect any more of the Forsaken because isn't that kind of cheating?

    Robert Jordan

    Read and find out. Cheating? It isn't cheating. Remember that the Dark One is called the Lord of the Grave and the part of this whole thing is that the natural order of things is believed to be cyclic. You are born, you die, you are born again. To most of the people in this world the notion of living on forever is at least queasy making and to some considered to be an abomination. They don't want to. It would be doing something unnatural. After all, the next time you might be somebody better, somebody you like better than who you are now. You might be somebody richer or more famous or more skilled, or whatever. If you live forever under this set of beliefs, if you live forever as who you are, that's who you're stuck with. And you will never manage to top it.

    Question

    Or a different gender?

    Robert Jordan

    Well it's possible, yeah.

    Question

    You've obviously resurrected two of the forsaken as a different gender—

    Robert Jordan

    Have I? They send me FAQs. Frequently asked questions—FAQ. Various people will do a print out and send it to me. And I have read a couple of them, not one for several years. I'll tell you, in those FAQs, the last one I saw three or four years ago about a third of what they worked out was right and about a third of what they worked out was not right but not quite wrong, if they work on it some more... They think they've reached the end but they've not, it's like they stopped halfway. And the other third, I don't know what books they were reading.

    Footnote

    There might have been some confusion here between transmigration and rebirth, because RJ has said elsewhere that gender is a soul trait. The Dark One can put someone into a body of the wrong gender, but a soul will always be reborn as the same gender, and the Dark One cannot change the gender of the soul (hence Balthamel still channeling saidin as Aran'gar).

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  • 55

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    I see the books, in a way you separate the sexes quite distinctly. Have you had much feminist critique of the way you treat the male characters and the way you treat the female characters, and how, in a way the male characters seem to be... have the upper edge?

    Robert Jordan

    You think the male characters have the upper edge? I like this, no, no, I like this one. I've had women come up to me before anyone knew who Robert Jordan was. I've had women come up to me at signings and tell me that until they saw me they thought that Robert Jordan was a pen-name of a woman, because they assumed that no man could write women that well. I thought, okay, that's the best compliment I received on my writing that I was able to get inside the skin of women well enough to fool women. You know, it's pretty good. I have seen feminist critiques, I've seen other sorts of critiques. Some of them made my hair stand on end. I had a woman stand up and point something out to me just down in Melbourne a couple of days ago about how all my women are very eager and ready to take charge, take the adventure, do what has to be done and all of my guys are trying to slide out the back door. You know, I don't want any part of this, and I haven't realized quite that it was that heavy. I don't think that I've had any really bad critiques. There may have, that haven't come to my attention. Just as I say a few that had been supposedly writing things that god knows I didn't intend to write or have any meanings I didn't intend to have. Does that answer your question or come close?

    Question

    It does answer my question. I think, to me, you certainly stimulate and challenge our imagination in your work. However I don't necessarily think you challenge our concepts of sexuality in the same sense. I believe that in your writing you very much distinctly keep the females in the female roles and the males in the male roles. And I think in our society, in today's society we're starting to get very challenged in the separation between the sexes—

    Robert Jordan

    Would you like to tell an Aiel Maiden that she's in a traditional female role? Forget about Aes Sedai, I'd love to see you go up to Nynaeve before she met any of these people and tell her she's in a traditional female role. I don't think I've got anybody in a particular traditional role. And no, I'm not challenging gender stereotypes. I'm doing a lot of things here and there's only so much I can do. There are other threads, other questions, other things that would be great write about, to put into these books. The only trouble is, would you really stick around if it was twenty-two books and they were twice as thick as this? All right, if so... Not only that, I'm not sure you could stand the strain. I have notes on characters, on countries, cultures, customs, all sorts of things. Aes Sedai—I have two files of two megabytes or so on each. One's just lists of individual Aes Sedai and information about them. The other is the founding of the White Tower—the customs, the cultures, the sexual relationships among Aes Sedai in training, the whole nine yards. Everything I could think of that might be useful about them. The story isn't there. None of it is on a file anywhere, there are no charts. One of my cousins asked us, "What are your critical path charts? You gotta have critical path charts for something this complex." And I said, "Yes I do have to have critical path charts," but even putting them on a computer in 3D it looks like a mess of spaghetti. If I pull in close enough to be able to see what's happening, I am so tight on that one particular area that the rest of it becomes meaningless. The only way I can do it is keep it up here. So the charts are all up here, the stories all up here. And I'm not sure how much more complex I can make it and how many more threads I can add and still hang onto it. So if I'm going to go into gender stereotypes I'm going to have to drop some of the things from the prophecies.

    (Later) Robert Jordan

    Oh, I wanted to add something here because of gender stereotypes and so forth. Somebody asked me why didn't I have any, in another question and answer session, asked me why didn't I have any gay characters in the books. I do, but that's not my bag to bring out the question of gender stereotypes and the whole nine yards. And they're just running around doing the things that they do and you can figure out who some of them are. If you want to help them, I don't care. It's not the point if they're gay or not gay, okay?

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  • 56

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    Where did the idea of the Wheel of Time come from?

    If you mean simply the concept of time as a wheel, that comes from the Hindu religion, though many cultures have or had a cyclical view of the nature of time. If you mean the books, then the idea came from many things. From wondering what it really would be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told, "You were born to save mankind. And, by the way, you’re supposed to die in the end, it seems." I wondered what a world might be like where the feminist movement was never necessary simply because no one is surprised to see a woman as a judge or ruler, a wagon driver or a dock hand. There’s still some surprise at a woman as a soldier—a matter of upper body strength, and weapons that need upper body strength—but by and large, the question of a woman not being able to do a job just doesn’t arise. I wondered what it wold be like if the "wise outsider" arrived in a village and said, "You must follow me on a great quest," and the people there reacted the way people really react when a stranger shows up and offers to sell them beachfront property at incredibly low prices. I wondered about the source of legends, about how events are distorted by distance—either spatial or temporal—about how any real events that might have led to legends would probably be completely unrecognizable to us. This is getting entirely too involved, so let’s just say that the books grew out of forty-odd years of reading everything I could get my hands on in any and every subject that caught my interest.

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  • 57

    Interview: Nov 10th, 2000

    Question

    What was the use of Elayne's "rod" in The Path of Daggers?

    Robert Jordan

    RAFO and he's surprised at the imaginations of some of the female fans who mail him—their imaginations are quite vivid.

    Footnote

    This was explained in Winter's Heart, 'A Lily in Winter'.

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  • 58

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Ken Wimer from Vallejo, CA

    Mr. Jordan, it is a such a pleasure to converse with you like this. (Unfortunately, I am at work, so I must submit this without knowing if it will actually get answered, being 10 AM PST!) My question: It is apparent that the majority of the "World" is and has been greatly influenced, if not outright controlled by females. As we all know, females and males must work together (as in a circle) so as to defeat the Dark One. Will we be seeing more of a "work together attitude" between men and women in your future novels, or more of the "women should control all while looking down their nose at men" theme?

    Robert Jordan

    Both. I'm not certain that I have a women-looking-down-their-nose at men theme; I simply have women that consider themselves competent in and of themselves.

    Tags

  • 59

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Davidexx from Philadelphia

    First, thanks for such a wonderful series. Your unsurpassed character development, such an important part of fiction writing, makes this series stand head and shoulders above similar-themed works. My question is about balance. Obviously your world is driven by pattern and balance (male and female, light and dark, etc). Why is it that as many of your major and minor characters find their complement (i.e. significant other), Rand has three, ehh, girlfriends. Is this simply because he's the "big cheese", or does this obvious imbalance represent the Wheel weaving what is necessary for the final resolution of the story?

    Robert Jordan

    Read and find out. Sorry about that!

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  • 60

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Melissa from Oregon

    You've thought out your characters so clearly and their personalities are so complex. How hard was it to do this? Did it take a lot of planning ahead or did it just come naturally as you progressed into the writing?

    Robert Jordan

    There was a lot of planning ahead involved with the characters, and a lot of work—with the women characters in particular, to try to make them seem like women instead of women written by a man.

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  • 61

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Brian

    Are some characters easier to write than others? As I write I find that to be the case.

    Robert Jordan

    In general, female characters are harder to write. I have a tough time getting into their skin. Obviously I've never been a woman. It's also hard to get into the skin of really evil characters. Rand is the easiest.

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  • 62

    Interview: Nov 28th, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    Talked about The Citadel and the workouts. Said that now for the long runs the cadets are allowed to wear sneakers but when he was there, they had to run in their combat boots. Said that it is because of the new women recruits—that they get shin splints running in the boots. Actually said "As big as I am, I once had to run a 15k in my combat boots."

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  • 63

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    What started you down the road that led to writing The Eye of the World?

    Robert Jordan

    A number of idle speculations that percolated around in the back of my head. I thought about what it really would be like—really—to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to save humanity. Even if the danger was real and imminent and everyone knew that someone was...scheduled, you might say...to show up and take care of matters, how would they react when that someone stood up and said here I am? I was thinking about the distortion of information over distance, whether distance in space or in time, and how that applied to both history and legends. The further you are from an event, the less likely you are to know what really happened. I was thinking about what the world would be like if there had never been any need for a struggle for women's rights, or if that struggle had taken place so long ago that it just wasn't relevant any longer. No one thinks it's odd to see women as high ranking politicians, or working on the docks. No one ever thinks that something is or isn't a suitable job for a woman. There were fifty or more lines of thought, and suddenly I saw, in rough form, what turned out to be the final scene of the last book of the Wheel. When I realized that that was what it was, a conclusion, all I had to do was figure out where to start from and how to get from A to Z.

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  • 64

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Jonan

    Mr. Jordan, is it possible that in another age, another turning of the wheel, that saidar could be tainted instead of saidin? This relates to the Female Dragon Theory.

    Robert Jordan

    That is not something I intend to explore.

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  • 65

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Aan'allein

    Jordan was asked something and answered:

    Robert Jordan

    That's alright...I like blue. I was given a computer, somebody sent me to a computer site, where they had lots of tests, where there was a gender test. Where you're to answer a series of questions and they'll tell you whether you're male or female. I don't know why people need to have this question answered, but... anyway, I was talking of going to the site. And eh... The questions were quite...obviously, you could see which, which you like better, circle or square. I'm not quite sure what this has to do with gender, but there it is. What color bedroom would you prefer to sleep in? Eh... And I was irritated, so it answered to the only 96% confidence that I was male [laughter] so this eh irritated me, but I think it was the bedroom, because apparently men are supposed to like sleeping in a white bedroom, rather than a blue bedroom. I don't understand this. I see a white bedroom, and I think, 'If I put anything down, some woman is going to walk in and tell me that I'm messing up the white bedroom.' [laughter] You know, I'm not even, gon...I shouldn't touch anything in this room, so...well, ... a whole different subject, it doesn't mean...never mind.

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  • 66

    Interview: May, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    I don't remember how we got on the subject, but at one point he made mention of the whole lesbian issue. Something to the effect of..."Well, you put fifteen-year old girls in a tower filled with almost entirely women, with their hormones raging on overdrive, keep them away from men, because you can't afford to lose any of them, and what do you think is going to happen?" I think this answers the questions about whether there are really lesbians in Randland, and if they are intentional.

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  • 67

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Gonzo the Great

    I noticed that only men use the phrase 'so-called', while only women use 'who called themselves'. Is that a coincidence, or is it intentional?

    Robert Jordan

    Coincidence.

    GONZO THE GREAT

    Three down. This is not going well.

    Footnote

    Gonzo is confused since women use the phrase 'so-called' quite a bit.

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  • 68

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    One standard question or another leading to the usual anecdote of him assuming the identity of his characters, getting inside their heads:

    Robert Jordan

    Before they saw me, they had assumed that Robert Jordan was the penname of a woman, because, they said, no man could write women that well.

    Although I seem to remember an interesting bit here about you not wanting to meet him after he'd just written somebody like Hannibal Lector. Sometimes he'd come down for dinner and Harriet, without him having said a word, would say, "You've been writing Padan Fain again, haven't you?" And although it would not always be Padan Fain, it would be one of the non-pleasant characters.

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  • 69

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    The women characters in your books are really interesting, not at all the cardboard cutouts that appear so often in fantasy. Did you do that consciously?

    Robert Jordan

    In part. In this world, given the history that divides this world, women had to have real political power. But on the other hand, I simply consider women to be more interesting if there's more about them to be interesting. A real live Barbie might be a lot of fun for a weekend if you're 22, but after that there's not much to it. Empty calories.

    They are complex women, strong women, the sort of women I've always found interesting. As my grandfather said, "Boy, would you rather hunt rabbits or leopards?" No choice there.

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  • 70

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    So will the male-female duality be resolved? Or is this a "read and find-out" question?

    Robert Jordan

    Read and find out. What I consider the major story lines will be resolved. There will be a number of minor story lines that will not be resolved, for the simple reason that there is no point to any real world where everything is resolved. That's always something that has irritated me about some novels—that you reach a point at the end of the book, and everyone's problems have now been solved, and all of the world's problems have been solved. I get the feeling I could put these characters and this world on a shelf and put a bell jar over them and go away. There's nothing left there alive.

    That's the way it's going to be. I even intend to set a small hook in the last scene.

    Therese Littleton

    Wow... you're going to drive people crazy!

    Robert Jordan

    I know, I know. I've been thinking about getting some of those Groucho glasses with the mustache.

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  • 71

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Aan'allein

    After that little episode Jordan asked:

    Robert Jordan

    Okay, so who would like to ask me any questions?

    Aan'allein

    People were still hesitant, so I was once again the first to raise my hand.

    Robert Jordan

    *smiling* Ah Sander... Of course Sander has a question.

    Aan'allein

    You talked before about the same Age in different Turnings, you can compare them to tapestries, they look alike at first sight. I was wondering, when at first sight, what would make a difference... Two points I'm really interested in. [*grumble* A stupid mobile phone was apparently not switched off here; yet again... I think Leiden was the only question session not interrupted by this.] Level of technology and gender related...if for example the roles of men and women were switched between Ages, would the tapestries still look alike at first sight?

    Robert Jordan

    Ah, but you're not gonna have that sort of switch. In this Age, how can you have a switch? One of the things for instance in the Age that I wrote. One of the things...For instance, I've been accused by some people of ignoring the feminist struggle. Well, there is no feminist struggle in this world, because there is no need for one. No one says a woman can't do this because she is a woman. A woman wants to be a blacksmith, she can learn to be a blacksmith, and she becomes a blacksmith, or a merchant or a wagon driver, or a worker on the docks, or wherever else. All of that took place, took place a long time ago. And they're very good at it. That sets the whole reasons why this should come about. Three thousand years ago the world was destroyed, by men. There is one group that has survived for that three thousand years, one organization that has managed to stick together for three thousand years, and have a great influence on history, and that is a group of women.

    Okay, so you just don't have, you just don't have it. To have a reversal of roles means... absolutely nothing.

    Aan'allein

    Okay, so the sociological results would always be the same, every Turning...?

    Robert Jordan

    Ah, that is one of the things, one of the things that would be a large, a very large change. Uhm, it's gonna be the smaller details, smaller things than that which change.

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  • 72

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Question

    Will there be more talk about necklines?

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan answered something about it only being natural that men will notice such things. If a man sees a woman, the odds are that he'll notice things like her legs, and her mouth and her bosom. And women will notice necklines as well, usually thinking other things like, "could I wear that?"

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  • 73

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Question

    Do you have someone to advise you on writing sex scenes from a women's point of view?

    Robert Jordan

    No. And if I had she would lie to me. A woman is as likely to tell the truth about that as men are to tell them, and if you think about how many of that you would tell anyone on god's green earth about that. And if you come upon that teaspoon of liquified truth you would tell, know that that is five times the truth that she would tell you.

    No, what I do is, I eavesdrop. [laughter] One time when he was younger and eavesdropping on women, he received Veritas. He knew everything there was to know about women. And it turned his hair completely white, and beyond, so that most of it is dark again, except for that piece in his beard there, plus it also erased all knowledge he had gained straight from his head.

    Aan'allein

    [In other words, more and more he was really getting in a funny-story-telling mood. Maybe Jordan should have become a stand-up comedian. I don't know how much of the humor I manage to bring across, I can imagine it's very little, but if you were there you would have laughed at every other remark, just like the rest of us.]

    Robert Jordan

    Once in all his books, he went to Harriet saying, "Okay, in this particular situation, this is how I think this woman would react, this is how I think she would feel. Do you believe it?" And she said, "yes, I do."

    Aan'allein

    And then my tape ended.

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  • 74

    Interview: Jan 14th, 2003

    Matthew Julius

    We get close up in line and I can start hearing things, but nothing of importance. A lady—clearly a fan—in front of me must have asked him about the female characters in his books:

    Robert Jordan

    His reply is that his whole family is filled with very strong women...

    "All of the men in my family are strong, because the women in my family would kill and eat the weak ones."

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  • 75

    Interview: Jan 15th, 2003

    Robert Jordan

    Now, I am going to take a very...Oh, I have one announcement. Later on, during the signing here, some of you are going to want to take pictures of me. That's fine. Some of you are hoping to get pictures taken with me. That's fine. I have only one rule for photographs: Guys have to keep their clothes on. [crowd laughs loudly] Okay? Okay? Okay. Now, I will take a few questions. I'm going to start on this side [his right] and work around, and just a very few questions so we can get to the signing cause I think this store closes at ten o'clock.

    Um, anybody, come on, aren't there any curious women out there at all? You women never ask questions here? [RJ laughs slightly]

    Bradley Staples

    [editor's note—RJ repeated the first several questions on the mic so everyone can hear, so I'm going to deviate somewhat and just present the info in a Q&A format.]

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  • 76

    Interview: Jan 16th, 2003

    Robert Jordan

    He talked a little bit about when he realized women are different from men. He said a woman (friend of his mother's?) in a summer dress picked him up, and he could feel the dress sliding over her, and he thought "She doesn't feel like mother." He could smell her perfume, and thought "She doesn't smell like mother." Then she went to put him down, and her grip slipped, and his face was buried in her cleavage. She set him down, mussed his hair and called him precocious. He ran off to look 'precocious' up in a dictionary. Now that he had noticed women, he was trying to figure out how they got to be that way. He could see that if you took a boy and scaled him up, you basically had a man, but he couldn't figure out how the little girls he knew could turn into women. He decided it must involve cocoons.

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  • 77

    Interview: Jan 16th, 2003

    Question

    Someone asked about how he writes women so well.

    Robert Jordan

    When he was a teenager, he didn't have much luck with women despite being very pretty. He mentioned this to his uncle, and he said, "You like to hunt deer, don't you?" "Yes." "You know a lot about deer?" "Yes." "You know their habits, when they get up, where they like to forage, what trails they tend to follow, etc.?" "Yes." "Well, do you think that hunting deer is more important than hunting women?" So he started to study women.

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  • 78

    Interview: Apr, 2003

    Budapest Q&A (Verbatim)

    Mort

    What about the thread of the life in case of the Forsaken? Are they part of the Pattern or they are outside? Is it broken in the case of the Forsaken?

    Robert Jordan

    No. They're part of the Wheel, except for the fellows who've been balefired, who are now gone: no rebirth [resurrection]; they’re out. The Dark One is outside of the Pattern, as the Creator is outside of the Pattern, but everything human is inside of the Pattern. One of the things that the Forsaken hope to gain is immortality. And immortality would put them outside of the Pattern.

    Footnote

    RJ has said elsewhere that balefire is not the eternal death of the soul, and Brandon has confirmed it (and so RJ was merely saying that the balefired Forsaken could not be transmigrated into new bodies).

    Rhynn

    You’ve wrote somewhere that Moridin used the True Power and he stepped out of the Pattern or something like that.

    Robert Jordan

    No, he's made a hole in the Pattern as a way of Traveling which uses the True Power, which is a different thing. If you notice as far back as the Prologue of The Eye of the World, when Ishamael Traveled in to meet Lews Therin, who was mad, the description does not match the Traveling that we see later. It’s because at that point, Ishamael is using the True Power, which produces a different sort of effect for Traveling. It is a different method of Traveling than either men or women use with saidin and saidar.

    Mort

    The descriptions are quite similar when he arrived by Travel with saidin. You also say 'bore a hole through the Pattern', and for the True Power, I think in one instance, 'ripping a hole in the Pattern'. And in one other instance you wrote that he stepped back inside the Pattern.

    Robert Jordan

    It's similar. Similar, but it's not the same thing. It's why it produces that fading in and fading out effect.

    Sequoia

    But if a woman used the True Power she would use it the same way?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. It's not separate. The True Power is not like saidin or saidar. The reason there are differences for men and women using the One Power is that one is using saidin, for men, and women are using saidar, which are not identical. But using the True Power, which flows from the Dark One, men and women are using exactly the same force, exactly the same source of Power.

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  • 79

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    NYC, NY

    Why are the women in your series very obnoxious? Does Harriet play a role in the characters of your women?

    Robert Jordan

    No, the women in my books are not obnoxious. The women in my books are strong. I grew up in a family where all of the men were strong, and the reason is the women in my family killed and ate the weak ones.

    When I was a boy, just old enough to be starting to date in a fumbling way, I complained something about girls. And my father said to me, "Would you rather hunt leopards or would you rather hunt rabbits? Which is going to be more fun?" And I decided I'd rather hunt leopards.

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  • 80

    Interview: Jul 22nd, 2004

    Jason Denzel

    One odd thing that RJ shared with us was his advice to men.

    Robert Jordan

    He said that men were like fish that had been removed from the tank placed on the ground. The idea was that a cat (a woman) watches the fish and often has no interest if the fish does not struggle enough before dying. The cats enjoy watching the fish flounder and flap around. But if the fish stopped, the cat loses interest. So Robert looked seriously at Brad and Bob and I (the only men present) and said, "Keep flopping and they won't lose interest. Always keep flapping!"

    It was a little silly of course, but it sounded as if it came right out of the books. One of Thom's sayings, maybe.

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  • 81

    Interview: Mar 8th, 2005

    CBR

    Gun powder is not the only fearsome weapon in Jordan's world. There is also a mysterious and deadly power.

    Robert Jordan

    "The biggest single political power in their world is the great city of Tar Valon, home to the White Tower, which is the headquarters of the Aes Sedai, women who can tap into the power that drives the universe and turns the Wheel of Time, the One Power."

    Men are not able to manipulate the power like women can, the dual nature of the power is often too much for them. "Men can't do that safely. A man who channels the One Power, which has a male half, saidin, and a female half, saidar, will eventually go mad and die," Jordan explained. "Only until he dies, he's a madman who can do horrific things with the Power. The fly in the buttermilk is this. Prophecy says that a boychild will be born who is humanity's only chance to win the Last Battle, when the Dark One breaks free of the prison where he was confined by the Creator at the moment of creation. And that boychild will be able to channel the One Power."

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  • 82

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    ComicCon Reports (Paraphrased)

    Question

    Thoughts on his magic system?

    Robert Jordan

    In physical strength men have the advantage so he wanted to design a system where women could have the advantage. This led to the concept of saidin and saidar and of the taint limiting men.

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  • 83

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    ComicCon Reports (Paraphrased)

    Question

    Why do you seize saidin but surrender to saidar?

    Robert Jordan

    Men's and women's brains are physically different so it makes sense that handling the One Power should be different for them. Seizing saidin is like surfing the mountain slopes amid in a firestorm. Opening oneself to saidar is much like judo.

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  • 84

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    ComicCon Reports (Paraphrased)

    Question

    Why are there so many dominant and powerful women, almost matriarchies, in the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    After the Breaking, men were viewed as destroyers. Also, almost all the male leadership of the world were Aes Sedai who were now dead. Add to that the dominant political force in the world for three thousand years being the all female White Tower. It's a natural consequence for women to be more dominant than not in the rest of the world.

    A side note—he brought up the story thread where he introduced a misogynist (Agni Neres, the boat captain on the trip from Samara to Salidar). Instead of being angered by his attitudes, Elayne and Nynaeve are puzzled and can't understand him at all.

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  • 85

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    Question

    Another question asked about the fighting style of Far Dareis Mai, and the questioner referenced a particular form of martial art that I had never heard of.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ responded that the Maidens fight with something that could be considered a cross between Tae Kwan Do and a third style that I had never heard of. It's a style that emphasizes the use of feet, legs and hips over the use of the upper body for obvious reasons. RJ felt that an all-female community of fighters would naturally discover such a style since it focuses on a women's relative strengths and would help them overcome their relative weaknesses.

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  • 86

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2005

    Question

    When asked about how he came up with the magic system for WoT, RJ said it began in kind of a strange way.

    Robert Jordan

    He had read a book a long time ago, he didn't provide a title or author, where the women of that world were not allowed to use the magic. RJ said that started him thinking about a world where it was the men, not the women, that were forbidden magic. Then he needed a real reason for denying men the use of magic, and that the Source, its division into male and female halves, and the taint on the male half all grew from that original line of speculation. As he was designing the concept, he tried to devise it as a science and engineering concept with the use of the different elements in weaving and such.

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  • 87

    Interview: Sep 5th, 2005

    Camel

    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?"
    Camel: "Yeah."
    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?"

    Robert Jordan

    "You really think I am going to be that easy. I mean I am gullible, but that's with women. Nice try, Jack!"

    CAMEL

    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.

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  • 88

    Interview: Sep 3rd, 2005

    Matt Hatch

    Skipped [transcription of]: A question about how Nynaeve knew about the ki'sain custom.

    Robert Jordan

    ...To which Jordan then goes into a discourse on male and female relationships, which was funny, about women seeing men like peeling an onion, and men being goldfish that need to keep flopping so women don't walk away, by preserving secrets, not forever, but enough that may be upsetting that just when she thinks she knows you, such a secret is revealed, and she then realizes there anyway, you had to be there.

    Isabel

    Isa here, I will make a transcript about this. It's a question from the Official Nynaeve Fanclub and I want the full words here.

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  • 89

    Interview: Sep 3rd, 2005

    Question

    When you first starting thinking about the series and thinking about writing it: when you were naming things, and places and people, did you have any sort of process or did you say, hey that sounds cool?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I don't know, it is a combination of things. I gave this recently, so it is probably already on the net. How did I come up with the division of the One Power, the male and female half? I had seen a novel, there are a lot now, but this was the first I had seen like this. Young woman wants to be whatever it was, a magician, whatever, but she can't because she is a woman, and women aren't allowed to do that so she is going to struggle through it.

    I thought it was interesting, one of the earlier novels of the feminist struggle, and all that. I put it back, because it didn't seem something I cared to read, but I thought about it because the thought that occurred to me is okay, that's real easy, women aren't allowed to do this, it is historically based or grounded at least, what if it was men who couldn't, now how would that be, as my wife points out to me, we have the upper body strength, and she is convinced all of the inequities in the world vis a vis gender, are subject to the fact that we have all the upper body strength, and I am sorry about that baby, I ain't giving it up. So, how could there be a situation where men were not allowed to do this, and it does not somehow get itself reversed over time, add into this I wanted a near gender equal world as I could, and how could I have a situation where women could maintain gender equality?

    Okay, now I split men and women, have different sources of power and the male source of power is tainted. Okay, you've gotta stop men and at the same time, out of this beginning came the division of the One Power, the White Tower existing as the political center of power for three thousand years, false dragon, the destruction of the world by men, false dragons arising periodically to remind humanity exactly why men can't be allowed to channel and why the White Tower must remain the center of political power. A lot of stuff came out of that one notion.

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  • 90

    Interview: Sep 3rd, 2005

    Ted Herman

    How old is Taim and has he slowed?

    Robert Jordan

    Taim has slowed, but one thing I am not going to reveal it in the books, so I'll tell you, men slow later than women do. And yes, he has slowed, and he is in his late twenties, yes his late twenties.

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  • 91

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Matt Hatch

    Skipped [transcription of] question by Tamyrlin (the guy writing this transcript) to Harriet, sort of a joke about something previously mentioned by Jordan in another Q&A about male and female relationships.

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Harriet went on to say that RJ was the perfect man.

    Robert Jordan

    To which RJ responded that he is in fact the greatest embodiment of what women want in men. Jordan calls himself gullible, he says he believes anything women tell him, although he does mention he knows he is gullible in this way, so he is suspect of what women tell him. He then goes on to give a short piece of advice on how to make women happy. Rule #1 Make her laugh, Rule #2 Put the toilet seat down.

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  • 92

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Matt Hatch

    Skipped [transcription of] question about how he can do what others can't.

    Robert Jordan

    He talks about being picked up by a woman when he was very young, during which his face plunges into her cleavage, and she ruffles his hair and called him precocious, from which moment he was fascinated with, a life-long fascination of women. He said that in his family every last man is strong, because the women in his family kill and eat the weak ones.

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  • 93

    Interview: Oct 2nd, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Infested Templar, two women linking have slightly less of saidar available to them than the two women would have individually. But it can be used much, much more precisely, and therefore more effectively, than they could manage working merely as partners. The reduction also occurs for men entering a circle. One man in a circle means that only the amount of saidin that he can handle, less the reduction for being in a circle, is available. Men can be much stronger than women in the pure quantity of the Power that they can channel, but on a practical level, women are much more deft in their weaving and that means the strongest possible woman can do just about anything that the strongest possible man could, and to the same degree.

    And finally, the Old Tongue is written in a script that has more letters than the English alphabet, some representing diphthongs. That script will be in the Encyclopedia that Harriet will do, along with 950 or so words of the Old Tongue derived from what is called Basic English, the 950 words necessary to carry on a understandable conversation. Some words I dropped as essentially unnecessary to the books—electricity, for example—while others—such as sword and names of birds and animals—I had to add. The total might come nearer 1000 words by now.

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  • 94

    Interview: Oct 4th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Alys Kinch, the Healing of stilling must be done by the other gender to be fully effective. A woman Healing a woman or a man Healing a man results in less than full restoration. It all ties into that theme I keep harping on. Men and women have to work together to be their most effective. And while the weave used by Flinn for Healing is not exactly that used by Nynaeve, either would use the same weave on a man or a woman.

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  • 95

    Interview: Oct 5th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    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.

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  • 96

    Interview: Oct 5th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Mark A, there are plenty of reasons for men and women to have a certain degree of distrust, though the fact that many Aes Sedai have Warders and good relationships with them shows that it isn't all mistrust. How much trust do most men and women have for the opposite gender here and now? I trust Harriet with my life, but look at how most people are. Look at most women's views of men, and most men's views of women. There is a lot of distrust right there. As for the Forsaken, they don't trust anybody. Gender doesn't enter into it.

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  • 97

    Interview: Oct 6th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For jofraz, I have gay and lesbian characters in my books, but the only time it has really come into the open is with the Aes Sedai because I haven't been inside the heads of any other characters who are either gay or bi. For the most part, in this world such things are taken as a matter of course. Remember, Cadsuane is surprised that Shalon and Ailil were so hot to hide that they had been sharing a bed even knowing how prim and proper Cairhienin are on the surface. Well, for many it is just on the surface.

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  • 98

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, the world you created is filled with very complex politics, and much of the work reads almost like a political thriller. How do politics in the real world affect your portrayal of politics in the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I'm not certain I can actually point at anything and say, "That has affected this." I have lived through my own time, so of course what's happened affects what I write. I don't think it is possible for any writer to filter his or her times—his or her life—out of what he or she writes. And that's awfully damned awkward; I'm going to stop using 'he or she', if you don't mind.

    Rick Kleffel

    Absolutely.

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  • 99

    Interview: Oct 6th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Anonymous-George, long ago I saw one of the first, I believe, novels about a young woman who wasn't allowed to use magic or whatever because she was a woman, and the thought occurred to me as to how it might go if men were the ones who were denied the right to do magic. Or whatever. I hate using the word magic. From that long ago thought grew the One Power divided into saidin and saidar with the male half tainted and the reasons for and results of it being tainted. Now in most of these societies—Far Madding is the obvious exception—I did not and do not view them as matriarchal. I attempted to design societies that were as near gender balanced as to rights, responsibilities and power as I could manage. It doesn't all work perfectly. People have bellybuttons. If you want to see someone who always behaves logically, never tells small lies or conceals the truth in order to put the best face for themselves on events, and never, ever tries to take advantage of any situation whatsoever, then look for somebody without a bellybutton. The real surprise to me was that while I was designing these gender balanced societies, people were seeing matriarchies.

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  • 100

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

    Now, [Wheel] of Time also has a lot of strong, decisive women characters. I need to know, what made you bring women to the forefront in a genre that is dominated by men in leather diapers?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I decided at each point who was the best to narrate a scene, who was the best point of view character to 'see' a scene...who is the person I wanted the reader to 'see'...through whose eyes did I want the reader to see this scene. And after The Eye of the World, that came out to be—about half the time—women. The women are strong for a number of reasons. One, because I decided that women could talk about the feminist struggle a lot more than I could—a lot better than I could—therefore I would write a world where the feminist struggle happened so long ago that nobody even remembers it. If a woman is a magistrate, or a merchant, or a dockworker, or a wagon driver, or a blacksmith—well, somebody might say it's a little unusual to see a woman blacksmith because you need a lot of upper body strength for that—but for the rest of it, that's no big deal. That's just the way it is, and I thought this world would hang together because for 3000 years of created history, the major center of political power in the world has been the White Tower which is all female, and has been all female for 3000 years. But mainly, perhaps, I wrote a world with a lot of strong women because of my own family. See, all of the men in my family were strong. All of them. Because the women in my family killed and ate the weak ones.

    Rick Kleffel

    Okay! That'll do it.

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  • 101

    Interview: Oct 11th, 2005

    Question

    The next question was about women and men characters. The questioner said that the women characters seemed to be written by a different person, and wanted to know if that person was Harriet. It got a big laugh.

    Robert Jordan

    He answered NO and then proceeded to say that he tries very hard to get into the character he's writing about. He mentioned that sometimes when he's helping Harriet prepare dinner she'll go, "Have you been writing about Padan Fain today?" He said she's usually spot on, though it might not be Padan Fain but Semirhage, or Graendal or someone of that ilk.

    He then told a story about how when he was a little boy (I didn't catch the age but I would guess 5 or younger) a neighbor woman went to pick him up. He mentioned that he had noticed the way the dress shifted with her movements and how unlike it was with his mother and how the perfume this woman was wearing was different than his mothers, and when this woman went to pick him up she slipped a bit and his "face got buried in her busom" and he felt a bit light headed. (big laugh) The woman laughed and called him precocious. He then said that ever since that day he's paid special attention to women. He said that he's paid so much attention to women that he now has an insight into how they react. This is why he has tried to create a gender equal environment in WoT.

    NaClH2O

    I'm going to break it here because this is getting very long.

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  • 102

    Interview: Oct 11th, 2005

    Question

    The next question was about other writing projects.

    Robert Jordan

    He said that he plans to finish the two planned prequels "eventually" (he didn't expound on what that meant) and then he said something very surprising to me.

    He said that he is considering TWO OR THREE SIDE NOVELS! Stories that suggested themselves to him. I was thinking, "WAY COOL"!

    He then went on to talk about "Infinity of Heaven" a bit. Saying that the society portrayed there would be horizontally and vertically stratified, a la the Seanchan, but even stricter. His writing style will stay the same and he won't change the male vs. female viewpoint expressed in WoT.

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  • 103

    Interview: Oct 13th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    RJ was amazed that few women were asking questions after the first woman asked her question (about the seventh speaker), specifically asked for women to ask (none did at that moment, but two more did later) and later specifically favored women asking questions over men. Interesting there—he ascribed the behavior to being at Harvard.

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  • 104

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    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.

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  • 105

    Interview: Oct 21st, 2005

    Question

    What are female Trollocs like?

    Robert Jordan

    They are basically breeding machines. They give birth to litters, and are quite fierce in defense of their children.

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  • 106

    Interview: Oct 24th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    At this point, RJ commented that he was getting sick of men asking questions, and that since he knows that not all of the women are there to have their boyfriends' copies signed, he wanted to hear from them.

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  • 107

    Interview: Oct 24th, 2005

    Question

    The first girl to ask a question asked, "Why is it that the most powerful women in the world perceive their power as stemming from a 'pale, white shaft'?"

    Robert Jordan

    RJ chuckled, and then said if you "missed the symbolism there, you just don't get it." He also said that if their power came from a "hole in the ground" it just wouldn't be as much fun, and they would only be feared if you thought you might "fall in", which would not be much fun, he assured us.

    Footnote

    This question was also asked by Fomu and Jarrod, and the latter report seems to make it clear that RJ was referencing the map of Tar Valon.

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  • 108

    Interview: Oct 24th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    He then talked a little about his female characters. He said the moment that had made him most proud as an author was when a fan came up to him, and said she was SURE that Robert Jordan was a woman's pen name because "no man can write women like that." He commented on how MANY male fans write and ask why all the WoT women are such "ballbusters". This got a chuckle from everyone. He finished this part by mentioning a coterie of female fans who once surrounded him, and in dead seriousness asked, "Who has been telling you things?"

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  • 109

    Interview: Oct 24th, 2005

    Jarrod

    Eventually Mr. Jordan turned to his quest of finding females that wanted some questions answered and got a good one when a lady asked why the most powerful women in the world get their power in a pale, white shaft (the White Tower).

    Robert Jordan

    The answer was, "If you can't grasp the symbolism, my dear... Because I thought about having them have their center of power be a hole in the ground and I thought it wasn't really going to be as significant. It wasn't going to stand out and have people say 'Wow, Gee...look at that on the horizon'. You sorta have to walk to the edge and say, 'Welp, don't wanna fall off into that, now do you?'"

    Footnote

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  • 110

    Interview: Oct 24th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    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.

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  • 111

    Interview: Oct 24th, 2005

    Question

    A few feet behind me was a woman with a very different question, "Can you tell me why the place of most of the female power in the realm resides in a 'big, white tower'? (Paraphrased because I can't remember her exact quote, but obviously making a phallic reference.)

    Robert Jordan

    Laughter reigned for a time, but RJ, as always, was waiting for her. He proceeded to tell how he needed a literary device to show the strength of the women who would inhabit the tower; something that when seen from far off on the horizon would inspire awe. He thought about making the home of the Aes Sedai a large, black hole in the ground, but since that is something you would almost fall into as you walked up to it, it just did not have the same power as a tower.

    Then he rhetorically asked her if she had actually read any of his books and seen the women in them. She explained that yes, she had and she used the term she did, since she was quoting from the prologue of Knife of Dreams. He said he knew the quote, he did write it after all, but again, had she actually read the books to see what power the women in the books did wield? Much laughter ensued at the good-natured banter between him and the audience.

    Footnote

    This question was also asked by Kevin Dean and Jarrod, and the latter report seems to make it clear that RJ was referencing the map of Tar Valon.

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  • 112

    Interview: Oct 29th, 2005

    Question

    Someone else asked about why the female characters don't seem to be as well done as the male characters, as if RJ spent less time on them.

    Robert Jordan

    To this RJ responded that he takes just as much time with the female characters as the male, and that his greatest compliment was women saying, "No man can write women that well."

    Jeremiah

    Well, the guy didn't look very happy about getting slapped down.

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  • 113

    Interview: Oct 31st, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    Then RJ explained that all the men in his family are strong because the women kill and eat the weak ones, and he wanted questions from women.

    Ursula

    I'm sorry, but I faded out at that point and don't remember those questions.

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  • 114

    Interview: Oct 31st, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    He confirmed that he's due to start working on "Infinity of Heaven" next. The next series will be set in a different universe, with different rules. He acknowledged that it would still have his main theme: "Men and women misunderstanding each other."

    He also stated that he hopes to get better. One day he's sure to make it. To this proclamation a gent up front called out "you're great", to which he replied: "Thank you, thank you, yes, I thank you and my mother thanks you."

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  • 115

    Interview: Dec 19th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    (for kcf) On the large scale, the gender relationships in the Wheel grew from the very beginnings of the books, really. I recall seeing a paperback book back in the 70s, a fantasy novel about a young woman who wasn't allowed to become a magician of whatever sort it was because she was a woman. The notion struck me as interesting, since it was the first fantasy novel with that theme that I had ever seen, but what really stuck with me was this. That novel was a simple reflection of the then-current mundane world, but what about if it were men who were not allowed to become whatever it was? Now that would be an interesting twist, and unexpected. Why would that be, and how could it be enforced? As Harriet has often pointed out, many of the world's gender inequalities stem from superior male upper body strength. (To which I usually say, "Oh, dear! Isn't that awful and unfair!" While pulling off my shirt and flexing my biceps, to be sure.) From that genesis grew the division of the One Power into a male and a female half with the male half tainted, giving a reason why men not only would not be allowed to become Aes Sedai, as they were not then called, but must not be allowed even to channel, again as it was not then called. From that, and from the history that I was even then beginning to put together for this world, though I didn't realize it then, came the result of 3000+ plus years when men who can wield the ultimate power, the One Power, are to be feared and hated above all things, when the only safety from such men comes from the one stable center of political, and other, power for those 3000+ years, a female center of power. The view I then had was a world with a sort of gender equality. Not the matriarchy that some envision—Far Madding is the only true matriarchy in the lot—but gender equality as it might work out given various things that seem to be hard-wired into male and female brains. The result is what you see.

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  • 116

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For ben, of course women can be ta'veren. None of the major female characters in the books is ta'veren, though. The Wheel doesn't cast ta'veren around indiscriminately. There has to be a specific reason or need. (I tossed in the "major" just to leave you something to argue about.)

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  • 117

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Steven Steinbock

    Ten of the Wheel of Time novels are available in unabridged format from Books on Tape and Audio Renaissance. All of these are co-read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.

    Robert Jordan

    "It was my suggestion in the first place," Jordan admitted, "that we have a male and a female actor to do this, a woman to read the female point of view and a man to read the male point of view. And we lucked out in that they both do voices as well. So it is as close as I can come to having an ensemble doing the reading."

    Steven Steinbock

    In addition, Jordan's Western novel, Cheyenne Raiders, available as a digital download from Books on Tape, is read by Michael Kramer.

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  • 118

    Interview: May 1st, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For Egwene, yes, I read Ray and Janny's Empire Trilogy and enjoyed it. Harriet has been the editor from the beginning with these books, but she has never been a co-writer is any sense or I would have credited it. My women come from observation of women in the world around me ranging back to my family. You see, I started early. When I was no more than three or four my mother gave a garden party, and a friend of hers picked me up. It didn't feel like being picked up by mother or by a baby sitter. I remember feeling her soft summer dress slide against her skin. I recall the soft, floral scent of her perfume. My mother might have worn that perfume, but this woman did not smell as all like mother.

    She bent to set me down, and her grip on me slipped. Now her dress was one of those summer dresses that buttoned up the front, and as her grip slipped, I slid down, burying my face in her cleavage. My head seemed about to burst with the scent of her. Then she had me upright again, and she laughed, and ruffled my hair, and called me precocious. Which I recall because I ran off to learn what it meant.

    After that, I looked around at the boys and girls my age. When we were dressed differently, we were very different, but if we were all dressed alike, in khakis or cut-offs for crabbing or to help with the shrimping, there wasn't much difference at all in how we looked or acted. The thing was, I could see me growing into my father, but I could not see any of the girls growing into that woman who had picked me up. So I began studying these strange creatures. I'll say nothing of methodologies. I have spent more than one night being harried across the rooftops by a mob of women carrying torches and pitchforks. We say nothing of sickles, of whatever size. We will not speak of those.

    In any event, along the way I came to some small understanding of a small part of what makes women tick, and this has allowed me to write women that women find to be real.

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  • 119

    Interview: Jul 14th, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For a fan of rolan_dcs, no characters in my books are based on any real people, living or dead. With the possible exception of myself, anyway. And the bits I took from Harriet for various female characters.

    By the by, I've seen a lot of comment, apparently from men, that my female characters are unrealistic. That's because women are, for the most part, consummate actresses who allow men to see exactly what they intend men to see. Get behind the veil sometimes, boys, and your hair will turn white. I've been there, and mine went white and didn't stop there; a great deal of it actually turned dark again, the shock to my system was so great. Believe me, I mild it down so as not to scare any males into mental breakdowns.

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  • 120

    Interview: Dec, 2006

    Question

    What is the worst lie you've ever told?

    Robert Jordan

    It's hard to think of one since I am genetically incapable of lying to women and that takes out 52% of the population right there.

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  • 121

    Interview: Apr, 2001

    Gerhard Hormann

    Could this series have been written if The Lord of the Rings had not existed?

    Robert Jordan

    Hard to say. The Lord of the Rings is a milestone in the genre and in a sense laid the groundwork for what we currently call fantasy. The first 100 pages of The Eye of the World are quite similar to it. In it, you’ll find the idyllic, pristine world as in the world of Tolkien. But from that moment on, the story takes a completely different turn. My series doesn’t only touch back to British folklore, but to all religions of the world. Women don’t play a secondary role, but make up at least half the story. And it doesn’t include any elves, nor unicorns, dragons, dwarves or hobbits.

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  • 122

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    Are the men and women ever going to understand each other? I don't see the characters growing much that way.

    Robert Jordan

    They're going to try. We'll see how far they get. I've spent forty-odd years trying myself, and I'm not certain how far I've gotten.

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  • 123

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Question

    How did you develop the female characters in your series? They are a strength to the series, and are interesting because they seem to contain genuinely "feminine" thought patterns?

    Robert Jordan

    I spent forty-odd years listening to women, and besides that, they're all based on my wife.

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  • 124

    Interview: Nov 7th, 2009

    Question

    There's a lot of female influence in the Wheel of Time, was it hard to write from their perspective?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In my early years writing, it was hard. I finally got it right in Elantris. It was harder to write from other cultures, especially Aviendha and Tuon. It took three tries to get Aviendha right..."Aiel are weird."

    Brandon describes Mat dealing with Tuon leaving as Mat having his feet knocked out from under him and says that in Robert Jordan's notes it says specifically that "Mat refuses to become husbandly".

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  • 125

    Interview: Apr 30th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    Did Jim talk to you about where he was going with a story as he wrote it?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    No, it was a surprise because I really pretty much had to have it that way. If he told me about it ahead of time, I would look at it on the page and think, "I've heard this stuff, before. This isn't fresh," forgetting that it was he who told me.

    But we did go out for lunch once, towards the end of The Eye of the World, and he said, "I want to talk to you about some people who are turning up in the series," and I said OK. He wanted to discuss the Aiel and how it would happen if a Maiden had a child. Well, you know the Aiel don't even appear until book three except for the guy in the cage. So, he was planning that far ahead, and he wanted to bounce it off of me.

    And at the end, he was concerned about a young woman's reaction to her mother's love affair, and did that read true to me as a woman. He would do that very occasionally; his women were great. In fact, in an early signing, there were some women in shawls who came up to him and said, "You're Robert Jordan? We were sure that was the pseudonym of a woman, 'cause your women are so well written." That pleased him to no end. He loved that.

    Footnote

    The first Aiel is introduced in The Great Hunt (Urien). Gaul (the guy in the cage) is introduced in The Dragon Reborn along with Bain, Chiad, and Aviendha.

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  • 126

    Interview: Apr 30th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    Did you feel like he ever had trouble writing strong female characters, or had to struggle with it?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    No, he was a natural. He liked to say, "The women in my family are strong women, and the men are strong because the women killed and ate the weak ones." Well, he did say that. It wasn't true. I never saw any bones, anyway.

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  • 127

    Interview: Jun 7th, 2010

    Richard Fife

    You have a knack for writing strong female protagonists, and I think that a lot of people agree, from Vin in Mistborn to the princesses in Warbreaker. I daresay even Egwene in The Gathering Storm to the extent that you got to write her. Care to comment on that? Did you have to take any special considerations when writing them?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was very hard for me at first. I did it poorly. It really bothered me because I have two sisters that I studied a lot, and I would ask them, "read this and tell me what you think." I'd look for their opinions; that was part of it. Then there's my mother. She graduated valedictorian of her college class in accounting in a time when she was the only woman in the entire program. So, I have had good role models; that is one thing.

    But for another, I saw it as something I was weak at early on, before I got published, and it bothered me so much that it became something that I focused on and worked on really hard because I wanted it to become a strength. And the real change happened when I stopped treating characters like roles in a book and I started treating them like people. Each character sees themselves as the hero in the story in their own way, and so I started looking at that thought. The early women I'd put in a book, I'd put them in there only to be a romantic interest, and that was a bad way to do it. Instead, I make them their own character. Every character starts with their own desires and goals, and nobody just starts when the book starts. They are already in existence.

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  • 128

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2010

    Question

    Have there been any female ta'veren?

    Maria Simons

    None in the main series, but they can be. Some people think Egwene may be ta'veren, but I don't think she is. (A fan pointed out that someone would have seen her as ta'veren and Maria agreed that she is not.)

    Alan Romanczuk

    The Dragon is always a man.

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  • 129

    Interview: Nov 10th, 2010

    Question

    Now that we talked about your last novels, let's go back to the beginnings : how did you come up with a passion for writing and for fantasy?

    Brandon Sanderson

    My passion for fantasy comes from a teacher in eighth grade, when I was fourteen, who challenged me to read a book. I share this story a lot, but I think it's an important part of who I am. I didn't enjoy reading when I was younger. I didn't discover reading until I was given a fantasy novel. I had tried reading many other novels and had been bored by them. And it was the discovery of fantasy literature as a genre—the imagination, the power of it—that really changed me as a person and turned me into a writer.

    I mean it's really bizarre: the book that I read was called Dragonsbane, by Barbara Hambly. And this is an interesting thing, because when you know anything about literacy, there are certain things they say that you're supposed to give to boys. You're supposed to give them a book about a boy, and more specifically, about a boy who's two or three years older than them, not their age but not too old. And it's supposed to be very fast-paced, and it's supposed to be very adventuresome. That's what boys are supposed to like. Dragonsbane is about a middle-aged woman, who's the main protagonist. She is not going on fast adventures—actually she and her husband are pig farmers. And he is the last living dragonsbane, a man who has killed a dragon. A dragon has come to assault the kingdom, and someone goes off to find him. And it's a story of how unglamorous it is to kill a dragon; it's like butchering a cow, just a really big one. And she is a witch, and it's the story of her balancing her family life and her magic. She's been told that she could be the greatest witch who ever lived if she would just dedicate everything to it, but she doesn't want to because she has a family too.

    And so here's this book about a middle-aged woman, who is trying to balance her career and her family life, and that's what I liked!

    And I still look back at it as an academic and think: "Why did that work?" And actually it's an illustration of what I think is great about the fantasy genre. I feel that fantasy can do everything that any other genre can do, plus can have this added layer of world-building. And that forces you as a reader to put together a puzzle; what is the world, how do things work here? It's this wonderfully intellectual exercise and imagination exercise that a fantasy novel can give you, that other novels generally can’t.

    And this novel worked for me, because of my own mother. My mother graduated first in her class in an accounting program. She was actually the only woman in the program; not a lot of women did that then. She got a very prestigious job offer, to go work for an accounting firm, and she turned it down because she wanted to have me, a kid. She still works as an accountant today, but at that time of her life she wanted to be a mother. And she has always balanced her career and her family.

    And I read this book, which was about a man killing a dragon, and when I got done, I felt like I understood my mother better. That is weird, that is so weird, but that's what fantasy can do, because it can have this beautiful and wonderful intellectual creative side. It can be adventuresome, it can be fun and have a story about killing a dragon, but it can also deal with real people having real situations, that help you understand the world better. It can do all of these things and be fun at the same time, so why would anyone read anything else?

    But that's what happened to me: I became a writer because of that book, and because of the books I discovered that summer: Anne McCaffrey, I mentioned Melanie Rawn, David Eddings, Tad Williams, and then Robert Jordan released later that year his first Wheel of Time book. Because of these authors I just fell in love with, I just wanted to be able to create those emotions in people, that they could create.

    And so I started writing immediately. I'd found what was me.

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  • 130

    Interview: Jul 11th, 2010

    Dylan

    Are there any male characters who don't know they can channel, but will learn?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Wonderfully specific question that is EXACTLY the type of thing RJ would RAFO. I will say this. We are not going to be introducing new plot lines in the upcoming books. Robert Jordan was specific. These books are culminations, not thread-starters. So basically, they will be focused on plots you already know about. Mostly. (Not much help there, am I? Sorry.)

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  • 131

    Interview: 1997

    Laura Wilson

    Tell me a bit about the idea of the One Power.

    Robert Jordan

    In these books there is the One Power, which comes from the True Source. And the One Power is what turns the Wheel of Time, the power that drives the universe. And the conceit is, is the One Power actually consists of two quite separate halves that work with each other and against one another to produce the driving force of the universe. Men can tap into one side, women can tap into the other. A man can't teach a woman how to use the male half, or how to use the female half for that matter, and she can't teach him.

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  • 132

    Interview: Apr, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    I liked the explanation of how the different turnings of the Wheel of Time create similar but very different tapestries for the same age—but the Dragon Reborn will always be a male soul (that was the question), just like Birgitte will always be a female soul.

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  • 133

    Interview: Apr, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    And finally, RJ mentioned that cleavage is the best thing since the invention of cheese in answer to the (probably ironic) question if there will be more talk of cleavage in the next books. According to RJ it's one of the first things people notice, it's the way men look at women, and women think of it in the same way. That's why he uses it as well.

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  • 134

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Signing Report (Workings of the Wheel)

    Robert Jordan

    Female Dragon..NO when a female hero is needed she is one of the ones bound to the Wheel. Jordan did mention a name but I didn't hear it. But he did say the Dragon is never female.

    Let's try and clear some of this up... I can't remember the exact question, but from what I read in this thread, it doesn't matter (I haven't read the Female Dragon thread). RJ said that, no, it is not possible to have a female Dragon. If the wheel needs a female Dragon, then it would weave in *insert female Dragon name here*. Probably because of the blank faces he was getting he then added, you can find her in the scene where Mat blows the Horn...

    He also said that a soul ready to be reborn cannot change gender, therefor the Dragon is ALWAYS male.

    Footnote

    This might actually be two different reports; since we haven't found the original sources for either, we're not sure.

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  • 135

    Interview: 2001

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    Let's talk about the Wheel of Time series. Does it appeal both to men and women the same?

    Robert Jordan

    It does. My English publisher commissioned a survey, and the managing director took us to dinner and said to me at the table, "We've discovered that your readership is perfectly spherical." I said, "What are you telling me? They're fat? What are you saying?"

    He said that apparently in England, my readership is evenly distributed according to age level. Evenly distributed according to income level. Evenly distributed according to educational level, according to political party, according to area of the country they live in. Every single category it was even distribution. He said we could not find a significant statistical bump anywhere.

    Now, there's no such survey for the United States. All I have is the fan mail and the people who show up at the signings. But I have 12 year old kids and I have people in their 80s. I have gangbangers and cops. I get letters from convicts. I have college students and doctors and housewives. I had teenage girls telling me things like, "You are sooo cool." I mean, good Lord, I felt like a rock star. I found that Sir Edmond Hillary is a fan of my books. I found that a high official in the Russian government hands my books out, telling people that they are not a manual of politics but a manual of the poetry of politics. There is no typical Robert Jordan reader.

    Rochelle O'Gorman

    Can you explain that? I don't think I've ever talked to another author who's told me that.

    Robert Jordan

    No. No, I can't. I try to write about people who seem like real people. When I need to make somebody do something in the stories, they do it for reasons that that person would do it, not simply because it's part of the story. I work very hard, when I am writing from a woman's point of view, to make that character seem like a woman, not like a woman written by a man.

    I was very pleased, years ago, when I was on tour for The Dragon Reborn, and Robert Jordan was not Robert Jordan, so to speak. He was just another fantasy writer out there, not somebody who made the New York Times (best seller lists) or anything like that. I had women come up to me then and say, "Until they saw me, they had thought Robert Jordan was the pen name of a woman, because said they didn't believe any man could write women that well." So I thought, "All right! Damn. I did it, I did it right."

    I try to make the people distinct in who they are, and as I said, "I work very hard on the women in particular, and I think that makes all of the characters real, or seem real." Now, that may turn out to be not at all the reason that people like the books, but it's the only reason I can think of. Except I think do think I tell a pretty good story.

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  • 136

    Interview: 2001

    Thus Spake the Creator (Paraphrased)

    Signing Report (Women and Men)

    Robert Jordan

    He also said he tried to create a world without sexism or organized religion.

    Tags

  • 137

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    Ajierene

    I asked if there were any female Fades.

    Robert Jordan

    Again Mr. Jordan looked up (by that time he was about to sign the next book). He told me how one does not see women Trollocs since they are really just baby machines. Apparently they are barefoot and pregnant somewhere deep in the Blight. Fades are a throwback of Trollocs and no, no female Fades have ever been seen. OK, so the question was dodged a bit. His wife thought Fades were not gender specific, but Robert Jordan said they are. More food for thought.

    Tags

  • 138

    Interview: Oct 27th, 1994

    Mike Allen

    After my turn in the wheel of signings, I joined a bunch of other Net fiends in the corner, whispering about this or that. I asked their opinions on why the Hundred Companions were all men, when the greatest works were always accomplished by men and women together. Another person (Dana, I believe) suggested that it might be because when one part of a link failed, the whole thing failed, and that in a combat situation it would be impossible to maintain a proper circle. None of us knew if that was true or not, so someone brought it to RJ's attention.

    Robert Jordan

    His response was what you probably predicted: "You want me to give a clue like that away for nothing?" Feeling brash, I then said, "OK, just why were the Hundred Companions all men?" He merely grumbled and shook his head as he signed the next book.

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  • 139

    Interview: Jun 16th, 1995

    Brandoch Daha

    Another question I asked was why men and women keep talking past each other in the books.

    Robert Jordan

    His answer to that question was that that's how it really is. Men and women think too differently to really understand each other; that's a biological impossibility. His books simply reflect this fact.

    BRANDOCH DAHA

    However, I never asked why the main characters all have a mental age of thirteen. But as I said, a sympathetic Southern gentleman he is. (Though his wife was even nicer.)

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  • 140

    Interview: Aug 31st, 1999

    Robert Jordan

    His own reading list includes Jane Austen and Louis D. L'Amour. "I think I write with a southern voice as we reckon things in America." Underneath the fantasy adventures, Jordan says his writing is about "the struggle between men and women ... not for control, the struggle to understand the rules of the game ... the interactions between men and women. We're all still playing it by ear (and) you're never really sure you've got it right. I've managed to hold on to my wife (Harriet) for 20 years, and she's pretty special, so I must be getting something right."

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  • 141

    Interview: Jan 18th, 2010

    Jeanne (Goodreads)

    Guess I will get things started. Thanks for visiting Brandon! You write such wonderful, believable female heroines, who are your role models and influences?

    Brandon Sanderson (Goodreads)

    Apologies for my late arrival, folks. I'll try to answer a couple questions per day, and I'll answer everything that gets asked up through the end of the month, though it may take me a while!

    Jeanne@2, Sandi@9, Justin@19: Your questions were similar, so I'll combine the answers.

    Writing believable female heroines — I should probably back up and point out that I wasn't always good at this. In fact, in the first few books I wrote before Elantris I was terrible at it. That disconcerted me because it was something I wanted to make a strength in my writing. This is partially due to the fact that so many of my favorite fantasy novels growing up, when I first discovered fantasy, were from female writers with really strong female protagonists. So there was a piece of my mind that said having strong female protagonists is a big part of fantasy. I don't know how common that viewpoint is, but because those were the people whose books I read—writers like Anne McCaffrey, Melanie Rawn, and Barbara Hambly—I wanted to be able to do that in my own fiction. Even beyond that you want every character you write to be believable, and it's been a habitual problem of men writing women and women writing men that we just can't quite get it right, so I knew it was going to be something I'd have to work hard at.

    I took inspiration from women I know, starting with my mother, who graduated top of her class in accounting in an era where she was the only woman in her accounting program. She has always been a strong influence on me. I also have two younger sisters who were a lot of help, but there were several friends in particular who gave me direct assistance. Annie Gorringe (who was a good friend when I was an undergraduate — and still is) and Janci Patterson were people I sat down to interview and talk to in my quest to be able to write female characters who didn't suck. I would say specifically that Sarene from Elantris has a lot of Annie in her, and Vin from Mistborn has a lot of Janci in her. In Warbreaker, Siri and Vivenna don't really have specific influences but are the result of so much time working at writing female characters that it's something I'm now comfortable with. (Their personalities arose out of what I wanted to do with their story, which was my take on the classic tale of sisters whose roles get reversed.) It's very gratifying to hear that readers like my female characters and that the time I spent learning to write them has paid off.

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  • 142

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2011

    Zas678

    How do Kandra decide gender? Is it just intellectual? Or are there subtle physical differences?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Kandra have a specific gender that is associated with scent- you can tell if a kandra is a boy or girl depending on how they smell. There is more to it than that. They also know who they are attracted to.

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  • 143

    Interview: May, 2010

    Chaos

    Does being female alter the spiritual overlays on a person, so that a Hemalurgically imbued spike would need to be placed differently than in a male body?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No. In fact, there are female inquisitors in the huge fight when Vin goes blasting through them, but he felt like bringing that out would have been distracting.

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  • 144

    Interview: Dec 5th, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    At this point he paused and said that he was glad that no women had asked a question that make him blush yet. Usually at signings this size some woman will.

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  • 145

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2009

    Question

    Do the Seanchan know how to make cuendillar?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You're trying to figure out if the collar Semirhage put on Rand is cuendillar. (this was a long convo so I can't remember all of it... I THINK he said the original had been made of cuendillar, and that the Seanchan had copies of it, but would not answer whether those were made of cuendillar as well. He wouldn't say if Rand was wearing a copy or the original, he said it didn't matter. And that he knew of at least two ways to destroy cuendillar—The True Power and one other way. He looked thoughtful when Muirenn mentioned the theory that women make white cuendillar and men make black cuendillar, but wouldn't confirm or deny.)

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  • 146

    Interview: Nov 29th, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    —Talked about some of his medals and how he got them.

    —Again talked about people writing in his world and this time made another reference to "breaking something".

    —Talked about some of his reference material he has made such as a listing of all of the Aes Sedai. Said that alone takes up an entire floppy disk.

    —And the funniest thing of the night was when a friend of mine asked him about the *sniffs* RJ said that "a women can put more in a single sniff than a guy can in a 'Yo Mutha!'"

    That was funny. RJ actually said 'Yo Mutha!'

    RJ cool

    ~B

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  • 147

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to grow up in Charleston?

    Harriet McDougal

    Photo by Jim Rigney

    Yeah, it was hot! I had relatives all over the place, so there was a wonderful sense of extended family. There were many notions about what girls should and shouldn't do—that was not so hot—but that was very ingrained. I was a late-born child—my mother was forty-two when I was born—so her attitudes were those of an earlier generation. And mostly, I got along...it was a happy childhood.

    Matt Hatch

    What was it that girls could and couldn't do? What comes to mind when you think about that?

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, it was more...I was raised to "marry well", meaning money. And actually not money nearly so much as land, and proper blue blood, which in this case meant Confederate...and not much idea at all of a woman making independent money, unless it was as an artist or a writer. But there were no jobs; you could be a secretary. Wonderful. But that was not what I was raised to do.

    Matt Hatch

    You said you had family, so siblings? How many siblings?

    Harriet McDougal

    I had one sibling, a full sister who was twenty years older than me, and she was the only one.

    Matt Hatch

    And she's since passed away?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, she has gone. And she was very good to me.

    Matt Hatch

    Yeah? What's your favorite memory of her?

    Harriet McDougal

    Oh gosh, a lot. I loved her Christmas presents. She lived in Chattanooga, not in Charleston; she married when I was three. She was just a nice, younger woman in my life, and with my mother being that much older, she was a friend.

    Matt Hatch

    So did you have any nieces and nephews through her?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yes, a niece and a nephew.

    Matt Hatch

    And they are still...

    Harriet McDougal

    No, the nephew's dead, and the niece lives outside of Charleston. She has two sons.

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  • 148

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    What was it like to be a female student at Harvard in the age of Harvard-Radcliffe?

    Harriet McDougal

    That's an interesting question. I thought, "Oh, I dunno, it just was." When you're doing it, in your own experience, it's just sort of there. It was indeed second-class citizenship, but I was very lucky to be there, all at the same time.

    Matt Hatch

    Did you sense that?

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, both! "Boy, I'm glad to be there", and, "Boy they look down their noses at me." And the president of Radcliffe spoke to the freshman class that I later joined—I transferred in; I went as a sophomore, but I've heard about this—but he said, "Well, we know that the men are here to get bachelor's degrees, but you are here to get the MRS. Let the men...let your husband buy the house for you, and you raise the children."

    Matt Hatch

    What was the general response from women?

    Harriet McDougal

    I don't know. That was what he said to the incoming freshmen of Radcliffe; I was not present that day. Actually, the experience of my mother's family after the Civil War was kind of useful, because so many men had been killed, but the women really had to root hog or die. And it was...I think it's why mother picked up a hammer. Nobody's going to do it for you; do it.

    Matt Hatch

    Did you feel like you were a part of that change, to a place like Harvard-Radcliffe?

    Harriet McDougal

    No. I was just there.

    Matt Hatch

    How did you feel about opportunities for women? Did you feel like there were going to be more at the time?

    Harriet McDougal

    No. It was just—"hmm!" There were no opportunities. When I got home from college, I spent a year at home, getting engaged and unengaged, behaving generally badly. I had a job, and it paid me $42.50 a week. I was assistant archivist at the South Carolina Historical Society. My Uncle Sam, who I loved dearly, shoehorned me into this. There were two employees—the archivist, and the assistant archivist—and we cut the paper, to make a carbon copy, in half for short letters, because that was thriftier—position it behind the carbon copy, type very carefully—and the archivist was a woman. I thought partly because I could see that the job opportunities for me in Charleston were essentially nil, and also because I was behaving badly, and I saw no sign of stopping this, that I had better go to New York to find work, and my bad behavior would be less noticeable. I mean, I had three engagements that year; this is not what was expected behavior. So I did go to New York. Some guy I met at work, actually, said he would give me a letter to the head of copyeditors at at John Wiley & Sons, and I ended up going to work there.

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  • 149

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    What was it like to be a part of the burgeoning sff field through the 70s and 80s?

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, I don't know that it was 'burgeoning' so much. It was just...it had been big; it was an established field, and it was fun.

    Matt Hatch

    What made it so fun?

    Harriet McDougal

    Writers are fun. Publishing is fun.

    Matt Hatch

    Did you take a particular interest in science fiction, or was it coincidental?

    Harriet McDougal

    No. When Ace came along, in fact, I thought, "Hmm. How 'bout this." Because I hadn't really done anything, and I looked at who I liked reading in the field—which I did—and the funny thing was, I mostly liked the women writers.

    Matt Hatch

    And did you find more female writers in sff?

    Harriet McDougal

    No, not so many. Judith Merril was there, a wonderful anthologizer. Anne McCaffrey had some early stuff out, but a lot of the guys still had women characters who...who made coffee, you know. They weren't very exciting. Well, I saw that on my own personal bookshelves, there were a number of people I liked, and I kind of, I guess with personal interest I sort of moseyed in from horror, just because I liked it.

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  • 150

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    When you went to Harvard, did you have any idea that you wanted to be an editor at that time?

    Harriet McDougal

    Not really. I knew I didn't want to be a teacher, and that seemed to be the only other possibility. I started at Wellesley; they had a major at the time that nobody else, as far as I know, did; it was called International Relations, and it was very structured—languages, poli-sci, history; I forget, but not a free moment—and I wanted to be...I thought that looked good, because I had read a comic strip for some time called Steve Canyon, and there was a character in Steve Canyon named Copper Calhoun. She always wore a satin evening dress, even in the daytime, and she smoked cigarettes in a long holder, and she had her own jet, and a multinational corporation. And she wanted Steve Canyon, who—like a fool—preferred some blonde in a gingham dress, but I thought I could fix that. And I think, "That looks good. I would like that."

    I got to Wellesley, and every freshman was given an upperclassman. First thing was, they said, "Well, you have to wear a beanie." And I said "What? A beanie? You want me to wear a beanie?" And I was talking to my big sister, and she said, "Have you thought about a major?" And I said, "Yes, I want to major in International Relations," and she said, "That's a wonderful major!" And I said, "Yeah, I thought it looked good." And she said, "They can always use interpreters at the UN!"

    Matt Hatch

    That's not what you saw...

    Harriet McDougal

    Not at all! And I thought, "If that's so..." And I was dating Harvard boys, who had a lot of freedom around their majors, and I liked that, and I thought, "Well, that dream of being Copper Calhoun is obviously not going to work, so I might as well just settle down and major in English so I can read my way through four years, because after that, it'll be no rest for the wicked, and I will have to work my fingers to the bone to support myself one way or another." So, pretty much that's what I did, and that's why I transferred.

    Matt Hatch

    It's interesting you went for International Relations, and in the end you switched over to English, and this has all come about because—that was probably a huge moment—that would have been a very different life, if you'd have gone the International Relations route.

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, I'd have been an interpreter at the UN! I did have a good economics teacher at Wellesley; her name Mary Jane Latsis, and she and a friend of hers who was a lawyer wrote some mysteries under the name Emma Lathen, which were very good. Each one—their detective was a trust officer in a Manhattan bank—and each one investigated a different business, so there's one about the oil industry, and things like that. And I got interested in her after I'd left—she was a good teacher, (whisper) but she'd been in the CIA! I was checking her out on Wikipedia, and it said she was an attorney. "No she wasn't; she was an economist!" It was the other half of Lathen that was the lawyer. But that was a nice experience at Wellesley.

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  • 151

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Jared S. Samet (31 October 1994)

    Is RJ trying to insinuate that the Red Ajah is made up of lesbians?

    Daniel Rouk

    Someone (Erica?) asked this question at the first Atlanta Signing.

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan said that he doesn't know how this idea caught on. The Red Ajah does have women who hate men, but not all do. He went on to say that its a bad logical jump to say that just because a woman hates men means that she is a lesbian.

    He then went on to say that he had a lesbian friend and they went out together looking for women and made a good team that way. (Erica, do you remember when this was? I have an idea that he meant over in Vietnam.)

    Daniel Rouk

    My impression is that RJ is not in the slightest bigoted about lesbians. He does have theories about female vs male roles in the army though, but that is a different topic.

    Footnote

    Erica Sadun's comments from the Atlanta signing about the Red Ajah and lesbians are here.

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  • 152

    Interview: Feb, 2005

    Bob Kluttz

    What are your thoughts on Robert Jordan's characters? Are there any that you identify with?

    Teresa Patterson

    Surprisingly, despite the fact that I am a woman, I identified with most of the young men, especially Mat and Perrin. The women always seem a little mean spirited and petty to me. I always wanted to know what they were going to do next, but I couldn't identify with them.

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  • 153

    Interview: 2012

    Twitter 2012 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (29 August 2012)

    I'll be reading a new section from A Memory of Light at Dragon*Con. My complete schedule is here.

    Brandon Sanderson (2 September)

    Tor dot com has posted the excerpt from A Memory of Light that I'm reading today.

    W.S.E. (3 September)

    A little disgusted that you included a throwaway line about Tylin raping Mat. Still buying the book though. Probably twice.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Hard to ignore that it happened, returning to the city as he was.

    Luckers

    ... you re-awakened the Mat/Tylin sexual assault vs. super funny joke fury. Ahh the indignant fandom. *sighs*

    Brandon Sanderson

    *sighs in agreement*

    W.S.E.

    I feel the same way about all the characters saying "you go Tylin" in A Crown of Swords, too.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It is one of the WoT's most controversial sequences, to be sure.

    Brandon Sanderson (4 September)

    The three excerpts of A Memory of Light that have been released so far: http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/04/a-memory-of-light-prologue-excerpt http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/07/read-an-excerpt-from-chapter-one-of-a-memory-of-light http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/09/a-memory-of-light-chapter-11-excerpt

    Footnote

    RJ apparently said that it was supposed to be seen as rape, and that it was also supposed to be funny. Some fans took the humorous treatment of the subject very badly (because rape is, after all, quite serious), but RJ was likely trying to draw attention to the double standard.

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  • 154

    Interview: Apr, 1997

    SFX

    That battle's inevitably violent, and Jordan's own background in the military has enabled him to bring a paradoxical perspective to the subject.

    Robert Jordan

    I know what it's like to be in the middle of a battle and I know what it's like to have somebody try and kill you... I can put that in. There's a balance between the moments when you can look back and say that was a magnificent thing and when you say, 'What the hell is going on here?' In the aftermath you're so relieved you're still alive that you can walk among the dead laughing, and people who haven't been there will say that's insanity. It's not; it's the sort of thing that happens...

    SFX

    Which presumably makes it easier to understand characters' motivations in combat?

    Robert Jordan

    I try to get into their heads. Sometimes it's difficult—it's hard for me to imagine being a five-foot three female, but I work at it and think I've done a fairly effective job. When I was touring for The Dragon Reborn a group of women told me I'd settled an argument they'd been having about whether Robert Jordan was a pen name for a woman!

    But I can get into anyone's head—I'll walk out of my study and my wife will say, 'Been into someone nasty today, haven't you?'

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  • 155

    Interview: Jan 7th, 2013

    Brigitte Reed

    Hello. My name is Brigitte Reed; I'm from Kearns, Utah, and I just wanted to say that I started reading the series when I was thirteen, and I was in the 8th grade, and so I've been reading it over...about fourteen years, and it's the best series I've ever read, and I'm so thankful to you, Harriet, for being willing to give it over to Brandon so that he could finish it for us.

    And I actually have a question for Maria, and this is a question that I asked Brandon in November that he didn't know the answer to. [laughter] So he told me to email him, and he would email you. But I wanted to know if the women in Randland shaved. [laughter]

    Maria Simons

    I thought I had answered this one somewhere along the line. Um...not really. [laughter] This is...I went digging around in the notes, and...basically, in the...the razors the men shave with are just not really good for shaving legs...so, it would be dangerous. Also, we see how they brush their teeth in the Wheel of Time, and we see men shaving, and a lot of things. And I think if they did, at some point Jim would have had a woman with her leg outstretched, shaving.... [laughter] You know? So, I am reasonably certain they did not.

    Brigitte Reed

    Thank you very much.

    Harriet McDougal

    But I think, in the thousands of years since the Breaking, there's been a certain amount of blessed evolution, so that women no longer have hair on their legs. [applause, cheers]

    Maria Simons

    That was my other thought. [laughter]

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  • 156

    Interview: Jan 7th, 2013

    Heather

    Hi, I'm Heather; I am from Lehi, Utah. The last time we came to the booksigning two years ago, I was also very pregnant, and I gave birth 24 hours later. [laughter] So cross your fingers!

    But my question is...I have not been a Wheel of Time fan as long as my husband—he introduced me to them after we were married—and I know that the female characters get a lot of hate from the fans sometimes, cause...well, I've always loved them; I thought they were really well-developed, and I really love the woman's world that's been developed in the series, too; you at least see Elayne's midwife appointments, and we see a lot of other things, and the women's magic is almost exclusively through the books until Rand comes along and kinds of makes things for the guys better again.

    So, how...I don't know how to phrase this, but how did Robert Jordan write about women so well, because a lot of times I feel like he hits the nail right on the head. Did you really influence that, Harriet, or...was he just a sensitive guy? [laughter]

    Harriet McDougal

    I did not consciously influence it. At a very early signing in California, a group of women came in, in long skirts, and they had on kind of shawls, and long hair, and they went up to him at the signing table—there were three or four of them—and they said, "Well, this settles an argument." And he was looking up at them, and he said, "About what?" And they said, "We felt that Robert Jordan must be the nom de plume of a woman writer, because who could write women that well?" And he said, "Well, I'm not." [laughter] Looking up through his beard. [laughter]

    But he, with the first book I think it was, Tor sent down a fan letter, and very sillily, had taken it out of the envelope, and it was a hand-written letter from a woman in Florida, who said, "You have answered the question that Freud was afraid of: 'What do women want?' They want power, just like men." [laughter, applause] And I think maybe that's what made his women so good.

    Heather

    Thank you.

    Harriet McDougal

    Good luck, and I hope you get home safely this time! [laughter]

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  • 157

    Interview: Jan 10th, 2013

    Question

    All of the females in your books seem to be very independent, strong women; do you believe that you write them that way from your perspective, or is that your experience, or...?

    Brandon Sanderson

    There's a couple of things behind that. The first is that my mother graduated first in her class in Accounting in a year where she was the only woman in the entire Accounting department—that was in an era where that wasn't something that a lot of women did—and so I've had quite the role model in my life. But beyond that, it's kind of an interesting story. I discovered fantasy with a book I mentioned earlier, Dragonsbane. Wheel of Time was my [?], but I discovered Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, and my teacher got me to read this, and I came back to my teacher, and said, "People write books about dragons?" She's like, "Yeah, there's a lot of books about dragons; go read them."

    And so I went to the card catalogue, which we had back then in the Stone Age [laughter], and I flipped to the next title in the card catalogue, and it was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery. And so I'm like, "Well, this has dragons; maybe this is good." And it was fantastic! If you've ever read Dragonflight, it's amazing! So I read through all of those in the school library, and I'm like, "Well, what else is there?" The next title in line was Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn, and so I read through all of those, which are also fantastic books, and one of the best magic systems in fantasy, in Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books.

    And so I got done with those, and at that point, a friend came to me, who'd heard I discovered fantasy, and said, "Here, you'll like this book." It was by David Eddings. And I told him, "I don't think guys can write fantasy." [laughter] That was—honest to goodness—that's what I told him. I'm like, "I don't know if I want to read a guy writer; I don't think they can get it down." And so, I did end up reading Eddings, and enjoying Eddings, but my introduction to fantasy was through three women who have at times been called feminist writers—all three of them have worn that mantle—and that's still with me as part of what makes a good fantasy book, and I think that's just an influence.

    My very first novel that I tried, which was not ElantrisWhite Sand—the female character turned out really bland, and I was really disappointed in myself, and I thought, "This is terrible." And it took me a long time to figure out—like, several books of work—what I was doing wrong. And what I was doing wrong—and I find this in a lot of new writers across the spectrum—is I was writing people—specifically "the Other"; people who are different from myself—I was putting them in their role, rather than making them a character, right? And this is an easy thing to do—like, you get into the head of your main character; they're often pretty much like you; you can write them; they're full of life; they've got lots of passions—and then, the woman is like the love interest, and the minority is the sidekick, right? Because that's....you know, how do you do that? And you stick these people in these roles, and then they only kind of march through their roles, and so while it's not insulting, the characters don't feel alive. It's like one person in a room full of cardboard cut-outs, like "Stereotypes Monthly" magazine. [laughter] And then your main character.

    And women are just as bad at doing this as men, just doing the men in that way. And so it's just something, as a writer, you need to practice, is saying, "What would this character be doing if the plot hadn't gotten in their way?" Remember, they think they're the most important character in the story. They're the hero of their own story. What are their passions and desires aside from the plot? And how is this going to make them a real person? And you start asking yourselves questions like that, and suddenly the characters start to come alive, and start to not "fill the role." And you ask yourself, "Why can't they be in the role they're in?" And that makes a better character, always, than "Why should they be?"

    Flop roles, too, if you find yourself falling into this, you say, "Okay, I've stuck—" You know, Robert Jordan kind of did this. The natural thing to do is to put the wise old man into the mentor—you know, the Obi Wan Kenobi, the Gandalf—role, and instead, Robert Jordan put a woman in that role, with Moiraine, and took the wise old man and made him a juggler. [laughter] And these two...you know, and suddenly by forcing these both into different roles, you've got...they're much more interesting characters. And you know, Thom is named after Merlin; he could have very easily been in that role, and instead he wasn't. And so, it made even the first Wheel of Time book so much better by making characters not be the standard stereotypical roles that you would expect for them to be in. So, there you go.

    Also, stay away from tokenism. If you force yourself to put two people in from the same culture in your book, that will force you to make them more realistic as characters, because if you only put one in, you can be like, "Alright, their whole race and culture is defined by this person." And putting in multiples can help you to say, "Look, now they can't both just be defined by that." Anyway, I went off on a long diatribe about that; I'm sorry.

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  • 158

    Interview: Apr, 2003

    Galgóczi Móni

    The female characters in WoT are very authoritative. Are they based on real-life personalities, or is this how you imagine that these women have to act in these situations?

    Robert Jordan

    All my life, I was always surrounded by strong women who "ate" the weak men, and so only the strong men survived in my family. My grandfather asked me a question: which is more fun: hunting rabbits or leopards? Otherwise, I always paid close attention to the women around me, and I observed how they "work". I always took care to portray them as accurately as possible, or at least that's how I think. This method was so successful—at least based on feedback—that some female readers believed that Robert Jordan was a pen name for a female author.

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  • 159

    Interview: Mar 18th, 2013

    Tom Doherty

    The very first book we published at Tor was actually Forerunner by Andre Norton.

    Harriet McDougal

    You went to Florida and said: "Please, I've never asked you for a favor, but I want one now."

    Tom Doherty

    It was neat, because Harriet was quite into woman's rights. She got a real kick out of the fact that, in the science fiction field that was so heavily male in those days, the first Tor book was by a woman.

    Irene Gallo

    I never thought of that. That's great.

    Harriet McDougal

    Even though she was deep in purdah writing as Andre. But she had first published at the age of, what was it, seventeen? Very early.

    Tom Doherty

    I looked it up later. Her first book was published in 1934, the year before I was born. She was great. She was a lovely person and a lovely storyteller. Of course, by the time of Forerunner everybody knew she was a woman, but I guess back in 1934 when she was starting to get published, they just didn't think women wrote science fiction.

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  • 160

    Interview: May 13th, 2013

    The Book Smugglers

    In all of your other books, you write strong, layered female characters—what can we expect from The Rithmatist in the protagonist/heroine department?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I often worry about falling into the trap of making female characters strong by not making them feminine. In Mistborn, Vin is strong in part because of how good of a warrior she is, and that's fine. There are plenty of women like that, who can hold their own in a fight. But in The Rithmatist, one of the things I wanted to do was write a female character who is more girly, so to speak. I wanted to make her a strong protagonist in a way that does not undermine her femininity. I hope that I've managed to approach that with Melody in The Rithmatist.

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  • 161

    Interview: Apr 15th, 2013

    Reddit AMA 2013 (Verbatim)

    solembum ()

    I've got a non-Brandon-specific question. I just happened to think about one thing about authors: When do you decide if the character is male or female?

    1. Did it happen to one of your characters that you changed the gender pretty late?

    2. What is important when choosing the gender?

    3. So why did you make Vin female and not male, for example? Is it much easier to write a male character as a male?

    Personally, I don't like books where a woman is very physically strong. I don't know, I'm strange. gotta admit I stopped reading Mistborn after the first book due to it. As I said, I'm strange...Still love your books and I never was looking forward to a book as much as I am looking for followup of Way of Kings. (Not even Harry Potter LOL!)

    Brandon Sanderson

    1. Vin, in Mistborn, started as a boy. I wrote about one chapter of Mistborn with her as a guy, then changed. However, another character by that name had existed in one of my unpublished books as a boy.

    2. This is hard to answer, as characters are very organic things for me. I don't plan them nearly as much as I do plots or settings. I go with my gut when writing them. I can't say why some "feel" right as male and other "feel" right as female. I write it and see if it works. If their voice is right, I go with it.

    3. As mentioned, Vin swapped genders. It had to do with my writing instincts, her dynamic with the other characters, her backstory, and just WHO she is. I'm sorry that I'm not being very specific. Characters are hard to explain.

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  • 162

    Interview: Apr 15th, 2013

    Reddit AMA 2013 (Verbatim)

    AlmightyBean ()

    Hi, I'm a male writer writing fantasy at the moment with a female perspective character. I'm having trouble with the tone whenever my character bumps up against barriers women have to deal with in my universe. I don't want to beat my audience over the head with gender issues or come off as preachy, especially as I'm still new to writing a female character.

    My question is, when you were writing your female characters, especially Vin who jumped out at me as a natural but strong female protagonist in a male character dominated genre, did you find her voice came from your previous writing experience, or did you consult much with other authors and/or women you knew? I keep feeling like I should consult some female friends on how I'm writing her, but I don't want to lose my own voice in doing so.

    Also, I love your novels. I find fantasy is a genre filled with characters who feel like tropes or someone's DnD character, while your characters jump off the page and walk around. If you have any general tips for writing a realistic person, that would be great. If not, just thanks for writing such great people.

    Brandon Sanderson

    I do consult with others. I think it's vital, particularly when writing 'the other' so to speak. Someone who is different from yourself in some fundamental way.

    At the same time, every character should be different from yourself in some fundamental way. And, beyond that, there's a trap in thinking "My character has to think like a woman." No, your character has to think like herself. That's an important distinction to make. For every generalization, grouping, or stereotype out there, you can find many, many people who break that mold.

    I actually focus on personality, wants, and needs first. Gender is a part of the character as a concept, and it informs how I write the person—but it is secondary to their passions, goals, and temperament.

    I'd say write the character first, then consult with your female friends. Let them read the character in the context of her story, and get a read on it. So long as the character is strong and individual, you should be fine. Some pointers will undoubtedly help, of course.

    The best way I've found to make someone realistic is to separate them from the plot and ask yourself who they are, and what they'd be doing, if the plot had never come along and swallowed them up.

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  • 163

    Interview: Feb 17th, 2016

    Question

    For all the spren, like the honorspren and the liespren, I’ve noticed that all of the characters, the honorspren have been girls and all the liespren have been boys. Is that just ‘cause all the people who attract liespren are girls and all the other people--

    Brandon Sanderson

    So it’s not a one to one ratio of people who are more likely to attract a spren of the opposite gender.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah I’ll delve into it eventually in the books. Maybe just obliquely, but there is a reason for it.

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  • 164

    Interview: Jan 26th, 2016

    little wilson

    Is the gender of a spren bonded to a surgebinder based on sexual preferences?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Not strictly. You're more likely to bond a spren of the opposite gender (or a spren that identifies as the opposite gender since spren have no gender), just like you're more likely, statistically, to be attracted to someone of the opposite gender. There is a correlation between the two but just because a male character has a male spren does not necessarily mean what some think it means.

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  • 165

    Interview: Oct 22nd, 2016

    Question

    KR seemed to have opposite gender spren. Why is Glys male then ? Is there something hidden there ?

    Brandon Sanderson

    More naturally, the spren is opposite gender but it doesn't have to be. It's not a indication necessarily of homosexuality, but sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. More often, you'll attract spren of the opposite gender, but spren genders are very fluid anyway. You're not supposed to read anything specific into that.

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