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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Oh, yes, there definitely are limits to the powers of the Eelfinn. For one thing, they cannot affect the outside world at all. If you said that you wanted to be King of the World, you might well find that what you received was not what you expected. For example, they might put you out of their world into a world with no other sentient life, where you would be king by default. Then again, you might find yourself with the necessary skills to make yourself King of the World, if you were able. Actually achieving it would be up to you. But then, many of their "gifts" are skewed in this way. You must be very careful as you're asking if you want to receive what you are hoping for. And yet, remember that Mat actually did receive very much what he asked for. Just not in the way that he wanted.
No, there is no connection between what the Aelfinn do and what Min does.
I asked him to confirm that he had said that Rand will physically lose his hand and that Mat will physically lose his eye.
Mat's amulet blocks both saidin and saidar. Jordan answered this one straight-out when asked. He pointed out that the amulet only blocks actual weavings of the One Power, not the physical effects that could be caused by a weaving. For example, Elayne was able to use the One Power to hurl a rock at Mat. Rahvin was able to create a bolt of lightning which struck Mat. (Jordan noted that Mat's death by lightning and subsequent undoing of his death when Rand balefired Rahvin, fulfills a prophecy about living, dying, and then living again.)
Hawk found a way to get RJ's attention. Brandish a whip. You see, RJ IS a dirty old man.
That was it for Saturday. On Sunday was the reading. He read a piece from A Crown of Swords. (I'll put it in a separate post, to avoid spoiling anybody even a bit. It wasn't a very plot-intensive bit, though. Fewer spoilers than the Prologue has!) It was a Mat bit. After the reading, he talked about Mat as a character a bit.
Anyway, Mat has indeed had far and away more MPS experience than our other young heroes, and intends to get much much more. I believe the quote was something like "The world is full of beautiful women, and Mat wants to romp barefoot though them all. (or was that with them all. same thing.) He's slept with lots of women; he's slept with women old enough to be his mother..."
Also, Mat makes the Aes Sedai nervous.
Sigh, and if RJ had shown all of this "on-screen," y'all wouldn't be complaining about the lack of explicit sex in TWOT!!! (And the books would read like The Fallon Blood.)
There are a number of characters reflected, mythological characters, reflected in each of the books. Because of the basic theme, if you will, of the books, that information becomes distorted over distance or time, you cannot know the truth of an event the further you get from it. These people are supposed to be the source of a great many of our legends or myths, but what they actually did bears little resemblance to the myth. That is the conceit, that time has shifted these actions to other people, perhaps compressing two people into one or dividing one into three as far as their actions go.
So Rand has bits of Arthur and bits of Thor and bits of other characters. And so does Mat and so does Nynaeve, and so do others. And yes Mat does have some bits of Odin, but not exclusively. He has bits of Loki and bits of Coyote and of the Monkey King.
Why did Mat think that someone was "holding" the True Source when his medallion grew cold? (That is I thought it only did this when he came in contact with an actual flow. This occurred on page 595 of A Crown of Swords, for reference.)
I'm going to quote the whole response again.
In answer to a question about the absence of Mat from the last book, RJ pointed out that Mat had just had a wall dropped on him and deserved some time off to rest and recover. At least one person in the front row was taping the Q&A session on a dictaphone, so there may be a transcript somewhere. I lost track of them during the signing afterwards, so I couldn't ask them if they were planning to put it on the net.
Long enough for what?
Long enough to be ALMOST dead.
(Emphasis mine) I was pretty sure this was where Mat died and lived again, but I guess that's out of the question now.
According to RJ, "Jak o' the Shadows" should be sung to the Garryowen, which is the official march of the US 7th Cavalry.
Here are the lyrics:
Jak o' the Shadows (Band of the Red Hand version)
We'll drink the wine till the cup is dry, and kiss the girls so they'll not cry, and toss the dice until we fly to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.
We'll dance all night while the moon runs free, and dandle the lasses upon our knee, and then you'll ride along with me, to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.
We'll sing all night, and drink all day, and on the girls we'll spend our pay, and when it's gone, then we'll away, to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.
There're some delight in ale and wine, and some in girls with ankles fine but my delight, yes, always mine, is to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.
We'll toss the dice however they fall, and snuggle the girls be they short or tall, then follow young Mat whenever he calls, to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.
For Krassos, yes, a channeler could still channel wearing Mat's amulet. Cadsuane has one much like it. And I think that I will complete "Trust" eventually. I think about doing so every now and then.
Well, I've been offline for a while, but I thought you had the news pretty well from Wilson, plus I needed to rest up, frankly, having had a stretch of in the hospital, then out of the hospital, in and then out, in again, and this time out on a Saturday so I could get on a plane on Sunday, have my tests done at the Mayo on Monday, talk with the doctors on Tuesday, then drive to Minneapolis to speak at Mike Ford's Memorial service. Frankly, I got home in some ways stronger than when I left, but in others, well, I was ready to lie down and sleep as long as I could get by without having an ice cube slid down my back. I really needed some rest, in my own bed not a hospital or hotel bed. And every time I've thought about posting here the last week or so, I just couldn't find the energy to do more the most cursory sort of entry, likely dull-witted with weariness at that, and I thought you deserved more than that.
You might find a small interest that I codified a list of things to be done once I have regained (1) over-all strength, (2) hand-eye coordination, and (3) some degree of balance. I am convinced that I will recover these things—the strength seems the easiest—and have even agreed, after some urging from Harriet, to submit my hands and feet to acupuncture! Go figure. Me, the Great Skeptic! Well, she's a cousin of sorts, through marriage—it can get complicated in Charleston—and she is fully qualified and all of that.
Anyway, the list.
1) Purchase Harley. I already have this picked out, as I think I've told you, and though Harriet SAYS she won't mind riding postillion, I'm figuring a sidecar is my future, too. That's okay. But not quite as soon as I hoped. It won't be under the Christmas tree this year. Maybe next.
2) Sky diving qualification. I'm not talking buddy-jumping strapped to some guy's belly like a kangaroo trying to escape from it's mother's pouch. I mean to take the whole nine yards so that I can walk into any place where such a thing is possible, rent a chute, rent a plane to take me up, and go jump, no questions asked. Wilson says we are too old, and my knees are too bad, for this sort of thing, but the thing is that having achieved that qualification, I doubt that I will ever use it. I will have done it, however, and that will be enough. When I was young, before my first tour in the Nam, I volunteered to airborne. I got turned down on account of bad eyes, and that is something I have regretted ever since. That I've held on that regret so long indicated something to me, because I have always operated on Lan's rule, bury your dead and ride on. I don't hold onto regrets. This one remains, however. So I will try to lay it to rest once and for all. Besides, I WANT to jump out of the bloody plane!
3) Take up ball-room dancing lessons with Harriet. Funny, after saying that I don't hold onto regrets, that I should come to this one straight away. You see, before I began having nerve problems with my feet and loss of balance, I was a pretty good dancer. Good enough to have 20-something guys complimenting me on my moves and women of various ages cutting in on Harriet to dance with me. It was also neat to be addressed on the street, sometimes by women I could swear I never met in my life, with cries of "Hello, dancer!" Well, I want that back. And, since I am completely untrained—I grew up poor; there was no childhood dance class in my background—I want to take the lessons because I want some dances, the tango, the rumba, the cha-cha, that you just can't fake. And not that Dancing with the Stars baloney, either. That is strangely entertaining, one might say weirdly entertaining, much like a train wreck involving Borat and Rush Limbaugh in clown makeup, but in most cases, the dances they do have no resemblance whatsoever to the dances they claim to be. Let them take their so-called tango to Argentina. And see if they can get out of the country alive. Anyhow, #3, dance lessons.
And 4) Take up golf. This something I had just begun to get into when things when blooey in general. You need balance to make a good swing, and I found out I have a pretty good natural talent for the game. My drives are straight—in two rounds with Wilson and his son, Jonathon, both golf fiends—I lost fewer balls than either of them, and if the length of my drives has been somewhat erratic, I was beginning to get that straightened out. I figure if I can get the occasional but not uncommon 200 yard plus drive without golf shoes, which means no proper swing, I can match and top and that with the shoes and with practice. It only needs the balance back a little. And you know, it's fun reading the greens for puts. I got a few tips from a pro who was earning some extra money by caddying at a club where I'd won a round in charity auction, and he had some wonderful tips for that.
So there you have it. Oh, finishing A Memory of Light, of course, and getting started on Mat and Tuon, and some others, five to ten years after the Last Battle. Those go without saying. Not a bad plan for the coming year, eh? And fishing. I'd like to call Billy Glenn and run up to Cape Romain, where the beaches are so pristine you can walk for miles without seeing a footprint not your own, where the truly big redfish, 40-pound, 50-pound, 60-pound, are cruising down the coast in the surf, too big to keep, of course, but great fun to catch and release, using circle hooks for survival of fish, and if a little time goes by without a redfish, then a 6 or 7-foot blacktip shark is sure to grab hold, leaping like a bloody tarpon. It's a great day's fun, with the wind cutting in directly off the Atlantic and nothing but water between you and Portugal. But Thanksgiving is almost here, and Christmas is acoming in, Lud sing God damn, with lots of house guests for each and also in between. No time for fishing. Unless I sink to trying an ultralight fly rod in the goldfish pond. I don't think that would play well with Harriet. Besides, there's no real way to get a decent backcast. I know. I've checked, and believe me, I can find a backcast in a china closet if one is to be found.
FINALLY done with the through line I've been working on for weeks now. Progress bar moved to 70% done.
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".
The change in Mat's personality that many of us noticed in The Gathering Storm was deliberate. He's reacting to being married, which was the last thing he thought would happen to him. RJ's notes said specifically that "Mat refuses to become husbandly", and he's doing that by trying to go back to how he was in The Dragon Reborn. This is part of where the silliness with the backstories comes from—he knows that he was less serious and more of a joker at the time, but can't really get back to how he was then.
When he was writing Talmanes, Maria mentioned that Talmanes doesn't usually mock Mat in the earlier books. Brandon said that he has always read Talmanes that way, and that's what he finds so funny about it—Mat doesn't realize he's being teased.
I heard you answer a question last night, which sounded interesting. Someone asked about Padan Fain and Elaida.
A lot of people don’t remember that they met.
So, his influence, how long for example...wasn’t Egwene exposed to Padan Fain? Are there still effects that Egwene has on people because of him?
Remember the idea that people have, generally, a choice. There are ways to turn people to the Shadow against their will, but when that happens the person is no longer the person. What is happening with Padan Fain is, naturally tendencies can be exacerbated or they can be fought off...
...so Elaida’s paranoia fed that? With someone like Egwene she might have fought it off, so it’s not going to be...
...right. exactly, or someone like Rand who continues to fight it off. He has become very paranoid. And the wound in his side, certainly someone could make the connection that that might have an influence. I won’t say for certain but...
...so, the suggestion is not only does he have the taint, which is negatively influencing him, or influencing him in such ways that might bring on paranoia, there is this accentuation of it because of Fain...
...this corruption...I mean that wound and the dagger...
...that is another source...
...Mat managed to fight it off pretty much completely, well not completely, but we don’t see Mat running around paranoid anymore...Elaida gave it something to feed upon and it was very very small and subtle with Elaida but certainly that was an influence.
Haven't heard yet from Maria on this one, so it is still a MAFO (Maria and find out).
No, Sammael was not paged. Sammael had sent Carridin to Ebou Dar to find the cache of Power goodies. The notes say that Sammael became aware that there were other parties engaged in the same search, and decided that he had to light a fire under Carridin. Also note Sammael’s reaction to the news that Mat is in Ebou Dar—“‘Here?” Oddly, for a moment, Sammael seemed taken aback”. It seems to accentuate that Sammael is surprised; if he had been paged, it seems that his answer would have been different.
Well, for this entire interview, I've tiptoed around one issue: the fan reaction to Mat in The Gathering Storm.
You kindly didn't ask directly, though I did sense that you were trying to get at it. And your own comments about The Gathering Storm are among those I did read. I know what you've said about Mat.
It's curious. I've gotten around 1500 emails about The Gathering Storm so far. (Of those, by the way, only one person didn't like the book. I'm not arrogant enough to assume that person is the only one—I'm guessing that most who didn't like the book didn't feel the need to email me and chew me out for it.)
Of those 1500, only a handful mention Mat. However, he IS the one brought up the most often. Oddly, it's almost exactly divided between people saying, "I love how you did Mat, he's my favorite part of the book," and people saying, "I loved everything about the book, except Mat didn't feel right."
That has been very interesting to me. One thing this does for me is that it actually relieves a big burden off my back, because it means that I did everybody else right. It also means that Mat is noticeably different to a small number of people. Was this done intentionally? No, it was not. I worked on Mat like I worked on all the rest of the characters, and I feel as close to Mat as I feel to the rest of the characters. I asked Harriet, and she said, "You did Mat perfectly. Don't change him."
So...where does that leave us? I'm not sure. I do realize that my sense of humor is slightly different from Robert Jordan's sense of humor. And perhaps if I had to do it again, I wouldn't lead with the monologue from Mat that I used, because that's where the difference is most obvious. A person's sense of humor is like their thumbprint. And I'm not sure that I could ever replicate Robert Jordan's thumbprint when it comes to that, and it never has been my goal to replicate him exactly.
I think that in the narrative, though—the places aside from the monologues—Mat is still Mat. Of course, Mat had some really big things happen to him in Knife of Dreams, things that have shaken him and the way he sees the world. But at his core, he's still the same person.
However, if you were worried about him, it should help you to know that the large bulk of the Mat sequences Robert Jordan wrote are in Towers of Midnight. There is a lot more Robert Jordan Mat to come. So maybe it's not really an issue at all.
Oh boy, you’re fishing for Nakomi!
No, actually I'm not; somebody else submitted that question.
Okay. I would have to have the timeline in front of me.
Yeah. I think they asked because there are certain contradictions in the timeline and that’s why...
Oh yeah. There’s a mistake in Mat’s timeline.
And that was in The Gathering Storm, right?
No, there’s a mistake in Towers of Midnight. Mat sees sunshine when he shouldn't, or vice-versa. The reason for that being, Mat's timeline was the big one we were playing with, and we were moving him through the book to different places to decide where various things were appropriate, and where we settled on, both Alan and Bob Kluttz—who are really detailed timeline people—both stamped this timeline and said 'There are no flaws in this except there is an error in The Gathering Storm', which we have now changed. But we let a typo creep through—that one was more of a typo because we moved a scene from some place to some place else—and so there is a cloud typo. It is recorded on Twitter—I don’t know if you saw it—where someone pointed it out to me and I said 'We will get that changed.' Maria now is aware of it.
If it was recently then I didn’t get it, because I’m behind.
Okay. But Bob Kluttz does have an official timeline...he was one of the beta readers. The betas have all kind of come out now. I didn’t want people being jealous of them before the book came out, but...
Too late. I already knew about Linda. And I was jealous.
Yeah. I went to Bob because Bob is a master of timeline—one of them; there are many out there—and Bob’s job was to keep me honest on the timeline, and he did a really fantastic job, but we did miss one typo at least.
I believe Moridin was...okay, in The Gathering Storm, he was in his own dream. He at least believes he was in his own dream, and he is usually right on things like that. And in The Eye of the World, he...I believe it was their dreams that he was controlling. But...
That's difficult to do.
That's very difficult to do....so I could be wrong on that. It's easier to pull someone into your own dreams, but it's easier to influence multiple dreams from the outside. So...does that make sense?
So, since he's doing it to all three of them, that makes me believe he was actually controlling their dreams. I'm pretty sure on that one, Terez. [Cut discussion of the pronunciation of Terez.] I could be wrong...but my understanding of the mechanics is that since they're all dreaming the same thing, that it's external, much as a lot of the Forsaken have been not warding their dreams through the early parts of the books, and causing people to dream lots of weird things, and share dreams. Ishamael was doing that intentionally...doing something similar. Does that make sense?
Right, and it also has to do with his ability to find ta'veren.
In my reread I noticed in A Crown of Swords Chapter 10, "Unseen Eyes", that Egwene says it's possible for a Dreamer to pull someone out of their dreams into a dream of her own making in Tel'aran'rhiod; this is something the Wise Ones won't do, but Ishamael wouldn't have a problem with it; I had forgotten that detail for some reason, and the Moridin dream confused the issue. It can be assumed that Lanfear did the same thing; Moghedien has shown no sign of having the ability (or perhaps the desire) to reach others' dreams, but she can trap Dreamwalkers in their own dreams in Tel'aran'rhiod. Aran'gar can do it weakly, and then only if she is sleeping right next to the person. Brandon has a point about the fact that all three of them dreamed the same dream apparently at once, but in once instance, after Perrin found the wolves, it seemed to Rand and Mat that they fell asleep, had the dream, and immediately woke up, when Moiraine says they were asleep for four hours.
A couple of things here.
The primary one is that Verin had to work around her oaths, which required her to go through some strange mental gymnastics. She actually tried out different ways of getting this information across, and could never make it work. (In her pouch was actually a letter that said something similar to Mat, but which read "Ignore what I say and open this immediately.) She couldn't pick it up at the moment, however. The oaths were binding. She would either have had to take poison right then, or bet on Mat being too impatient to wait.
Second thing is this, and it's a slight spoiler for the next book. She did build in redundancy.
My question isn't regarding the loophole that she found, the question is as to why make Mat promise to obey the letter. She could have made him promise not to open the letter for three days and still maintained her loophole. It's the promise to obey the letter that makes Mat not read it and now they are in a whole lot of trouble because of it.
Let's just say that Verin...didn't understand Mat as well as she thought that she did.
In the books, Mat says that he's "Pretty Sure" that he'd already died. So use that as a guide.
A better guide might be the two Balticon reports, both of which claim RJ said the Caemlyn death fulfilled the prophecy. RJ also confirmed that Mat was only 'almost' dead in Rhuidean to Tim Kington in 2003, and in 1999 in Sydney he noted that Mat hopes the prophecy was fulfilled in Rhuidean (because he doesn't remember dying in Caemlyn).
Wasn't that fulfilled when he was hung from Avendesora?
That's what I'm wondering, whether that was it or not.
But I thought Mat DIDN'T die when he got hung, just came really close ...
Mat died and then Rand used balefire and turned back time.
Right *facepalm* I don't know how I forgot that.
If he had actually died when he was hung, Rand wouldn't have been able to bring him back. (i.e.: crazy puppet girl in the Stone)
Re: Another Mat being hung confirmation. Like I said, Mat's pretty sure that counted for him dying. He really doesn't want to try anything like that again...
RJ responded by saying that he, himself, found Perrin kind of boring, and he didn't understand why people liked him so much. But what really surprised him was that the most popular guy was Mat, the guy he had thought would be the most hated.
RJ then went into a minute-long tirade about how nice guys never get girls. He said that, while the girl might think she wants the good guy, she will always end up driving off with the guy in the Harley. Yes, he said Harley.
Yeah, but apart from Birgitte, yeah. I've always had this sort of fantasy in my mind that Nynaeve might be the reincarnation of Eldrene, the last queen of Manetheren, or something like that. And Mat, you know…gosh, he seems like...before he even left the Two Rivers, the Old Blood was coming out really strongly in him; it makes me wonder if he's not the actual rebirth of some extraordinary battle hero from Mathetheren. [silence]
Interesting speculation. [laughter]
Which is going to go nowhere!
We're not putting answers into their mouths! We're supposed to be getting answers from them, not giving them answers to give back to us! [laughter]
Oh, was that a question?
Well, sort of!
No, you're doing well; keep going. [laughter]
He's going to do what he always does; he's going to sit back and listen to all the answers until he finds one that he likes, and he says, "You know what? That was it!" [laughter]
Well, I guess this is something that we're just gonna have to hopefully read and find out...
…or I hope some of these questions are not going to be Brandon has said that Robert Jordan just said that 'this does not get resolved', you know...
That would be a shame. [laughter]
I'm not sure where that will leave us. Endlessly speculating till the Wheel stops turning…
There's no beginning or ending to the Wheel of Time.
Virginia will be reborn again once she passes and she will still be even more into WoT than she was now. [laughter] I can see it.
I can see it.
You'll learn your letters so you can read Robert Jordan in the cradle. [laughter]
I think you'll have a huge advantage, cause all the books will be out by then and you'll just be able to read 'em one after the other.
That's right, although I was going to say that I think I have the advantage, I was probably reading Robert Jordan when a couple of you guys were in the cradle.
Well, not in the cradle, but I was itty bitty when the first book came out.
I think I was still in the cradle.
Wow. I feel old.
Yeah, that's cause he…that's cause you're just…
I am twenty. I'm not even twenty yet, so...
Oh my gosh!
You weren't even born when the first book came out, buddy.
There you go.
Yeah, but they still put up with me, and I think I'm older than Cad-swayne. Is that right? Cad-swayne? Cad-swanee?
Oh, yay! Whew. So far I'm...
Except that we know that Cadsuane is a couple hundred years old, which, you know, is older than the country.
Okay, so I'm not quite older than Cadsuane...
You come close.
Yeah, I feel like it. Anyway, enough of that...
You're as old as Re-anne. Or is it Re-annie?
That's on that list.
Yeah, I've been saying that one wrong the whole time.
In general, are ending Es pronounced in the Wheel of Time names, like Reanne?
It varies. He wasn't really…I mean, sometimes yes, and sometimes…I mean, I was thinking about this, because if Cadsuane's final e was pronounced, she would be Cad-soo-ae-nah, like Macarena, and you could do a whole dance. But… [laughter] There doesn't really seem to be a rule. It's just how he felt that day I think, or how it sounded to him.
Some are, and some aren't, you know. It is kind of confusing, but we don't know for sure, if we're even right when we guess that, so you be the arbiter on this one. Unless, as Brandon said in our interview to him, unless Robert Jordan comes down to us in a beam of white light and sets us straight, some of these things may not ever be known for sure, so you have to tell us as best you can. Speaking of names that end in E , two that almost kind of strike me are, um…I started out saying muh-RELL, and then I kind of went to muh-RELL-uh, because of the presumption that the final Es were pronounced, so I don't know for sure which one is right on that; I go back and forth between that.
That's interesting. I say my-RELL. I'm not absolutely sure that's the way Jim said it.
Okay, what about lee-AHN, or is it lee-AHN-uh?
lee-AHN-uh is correct. That one is Leanne. And Reanne.
I believe that Myrelle…it's my-RELL.
You pronounce the Y?
Mm-hmm. Like 'my'.
Many thanks, all, for the birthday (and Koloss Head-munching Day) wishes! You are all awesome. To celebrate, I'm writing A Memory of Light. ;)
To get ready for today's writing, I have put on my "Blood and Bloody ashes" shirt from Ta'veren Tees. (https://taverentees.com/threads/)
Note that my wife stole my Koloss Head-Munching Day shirt for the day, which is why I'm not wearing it. (http://store.inkwing.com/happy-koloss-head-munching-day-t-shirt)
Also, for A Memory of Light, I did finish the early-book material I'd left for later, and am back at the ending. My shirt is very appropriate today.
Hm... I haven't given any good A Memory of Light teases today, have I? Well, right now, one of the Forsaken is wearing the image of another Forsaken.
And I was hoping you would say one of the Forsaken was wearing another's pants.
Well, that too, of course.
Still hard at work on A Memory of Light. Today's scenes involve lots of loud noises.
Just curious, have you read the end scenes that RJ wrote? Or are you waiting till you get there?
I read them as soon as I got them. I needed to use them as a target 'goal' for the book.
Now, on to a scene that finally, at long last, fulfills something Min saw long ago...
I've finished all characters except Rand and Mat. (Note, I'm not writing in order; other characters have already-written scenes after this.)
Now, I have to finish Mat's climax, write a few more Rand scenes, then add in RJ's ending material. Then we're done. Very close now.
What are your thoughts on ending the WoT series that Robert Jordan started so long ago? :)
After a few hours with the family, am back at work on A Memory of Light. It's slightly possible that I'll finish it sometime during the night.
Would that make tonight A Memory of Light Eve?
Ha. Yes, I guess it would.
You can follow along, if you wish. I have twenty small points on my outline left to hit. Maybe 10k words or so. I'll tweet as I pass them.
First scene out of twenty finished. (Note that I'm using 'scene' here liberally to mean a point on the plot outline.)
Can you tell us who has the last chapter?
Afraid that would spoil too much.
Note that as I approach an ending, my writing speed goes up, as I get momentum. 10k tonight is not impossible. (Though most days I do 2-3.)
Two out of twenty scenes done. Eighteen left, and A Memory of Light will be finished.
Three out of Twenty of the remaining scenes in A Memory of Light have been finished. (If you're just now seeing this, check back to my last few posts.)
How long was it after the first two books were finished until they were published?
For the first one, about a year. For the next, about six months. This will probably be closer to the first than the second.
Scene four was slightly shorter than the others. 4 out of 20 finished so far tonight.
Scene #5 finished. 25% through the ending of A Memory of Light. Feeling good about these scenes. All is going very well.
Some of you have asked if I got the Magic cards you sent me off of my Amazon wishlist. I did! I'm waiting to open them until I'm done with A Memory of Light.
A few of these scenes are pretty emotional ones for me. It's been a long, long road. I started reading the WoT twenty-one years ago.
Just finished scene #6 out of the 20 remaining in A Memory of Light.
Scene seven is done. Thirteen more to go. This one...this one was tough to write.
I've apparently inspired a drinking game with this on both Twitter and Facebook. I'd join in, but: 1) Mormon. 2) BUSY WRITING END OF WOT. :)
Scene #8 is a tricky one. I know how it has to go, I just need to do it carefully. Getting close to having it right.
Scene #8 is finished. This is going well. I often build momentum like this during a powerful book ending, and this one is very powerful.
We shall see. We've still got three or four hours before I'd normally turn in for bed. If I start to get sleepy, I'll call it for the night.
No sense in pushing on if the quality starts to flag. Knowing myself, though, I'll be too excited to be tired for a while yet. Onward!
Glad to hear things are ending well! I can't wait to read it. Think I have time for a full re-read before A Memory of Light?
Depends on how quickly you read. :)
Cannot wait, but I agree. Is it really going to take a year to edit and publish?
I've done a dozen drafts each of the previous two books. That kind of thing takes a little bit of time...
I just did something to Mat that I've been gleefully waiting to do for three years.
Don't stress the thing I did to Mat too much. It's a little (and fun) thing I've wanted to see him do for a long time.
I have finished scene #9 out of 20 I need to write before A Memory of Light is done.
Best of luck to @BrandSanderson as I turn in for the night. I'm giddy for A Memory of Light.
Hopefully, you will wake to find the book finished.
It's almost 3:30am here and I SHOULD be in bed, but I feel like I need 2 stay up and cheer you on and also to witness THE END!
Ha. Well, there are still hours left to go, I suspect. I started at...what, 9:00 here? I'm to 1/2 and it's almost 2:00?
For those asking, it's almost 2:00 am here. The night is still young.
Just finished Scene #10. Halfway there!
I don't expect it to go longer than those. After editing, I'm pretty sure we'll settle at 350-360k words. (About 10% longer than Towers of Midnight.)
Brace yourselves. I just finished the last Mat Cauthon scene that, in all likelihood, will ever be written.
General writing question: after The editor edits, is it typical for an author to add/rewrite, or only the editor?
Only the author rewrites or adds. Never the editor. (in most cases.)
The fourteenth scene was Mat's, and now I've finished the fifteenth scene. Five more to go, and A Memory of Light is done.
Just finished scene #16. Four more to go. Guess I'm not stopping tonight, eh?
Scene #17 is finished. I was a tad on the longer side for the ones I'm doing here, as are the last three. 5:00 am here.
I keep flashing back to times I've read the WoT books through my life. Looking back, you could call Rand/Mat/Perrin my oldest friends.
Scene #18 is done. Two more to go.
Scene #19 is done. Deep breath. I'm beginning the last scene I will write in the Wheel of Time, then will add RJ's ending.
I've been listening to Pandora as I do this, but am wondering if I should pick a specific song to listen to as I finish. Suggestions?
My choice for a song to play as I write the last few paragraphs here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-0G_FI61a8
Ladies and gentlemen, A Memory of Light—the final book in The Wheel of Time—has been finished.
Now I'll open a metric gigaton of Magic cards that have been sent to me by fans, sleep for a day, and rest until next week.Then: revisions!
As for when the book will come out, Tor should do an announcement soon. Revisions will take a good six months. So fall, I expect.
Another common question: How many revisions will I do? The last two took about a dozen. (On non-WoT books, I do about seven or eight.)
Also, it's going to be tough to give direct replies to questions right now, what with like 1000 people tweeting/facebooking at me. :)
But lots of people are asking about outriggers/prequels. The answer is still the same. We'd rather not risk exploiting RJ's legacy.
It is a step I don't think we want to take. Better to stop while we're ahead. I'm sorry, but they probably won't ever happen.
And now, yes, I will go to sleep. 7am here. That's 10 hours of solid writing after a full day of solid writing, so I'm beat.
Thank you all for the good wishes. May you find water and shade.
Ah. Good morning, all. (Yes, it's five in the afternoon here.) Checking email, and...INBOX EXPLOSION. I guess I was expecting it. :)
The next question was about the heights and weights of the three amigos. I had seen the heights reported before, but not the weights. This might actually be new info.
Rand is 6' 5" to 6' 6" and 235 lbs.
Perrin is 6' 1½" and 235-245 lbs.
Mat is 6' and 180 lbs.
Umm...yes, you don't abandon it that easily, but, the other touch on Fain is far more dominant.
That would be Mordeth?
Is Fain still a Darkfriend?
I don't know if Fain counts as a Darkfriend anymore. I think Fain is his own faction.
How is Fain getting Trollocs and Myrddraal to follow him if he is not a Darkfriend?
He is using...other means...they aren't following him because he is a Darkfriend. Certainly not [he smiles a bit here].
Is Mat still attached in any way to Fain's dagger?
Read and Find out.
The relationship between artist and critic/fan is a curious one in this regard. On one hand, I do think feedback is important, particularly on a project like this (where, as I've stated, I feel that the project rightly belongs more to the fans than it does to me.) However, a writer must keep their artistic integrity. Allowing yourself to get pulled in too many directions by fan requests can be a disaster for an artist. Basically, you can't try to please everyone—if you do, you risk ending up with either a completely schizophrenic project, or one that is so bland it lacks emotional depth or power.
So, like I said, fine line. I looked at fan responses on The Gathering Storm very cautiously and carefully, trying to keep in the same mindset that I use when getting feedback from my critique group. Basically, that mindset is this: "I will do what I feel is best for the story, regardless of what other people think. Even if I'm the only one who feels that way. But if someone raises a complaint that either strikes a cord within me, or which gains a lot of support from others, I WILL look into it and try to approach it objectively."
That's a mouthful. Basically, what it means is keeping an open mind for ideas that will make the story a better version of what I want it to be. On The Gathering Storm, there were two basic areas I felt fans were right about that I could and should fix. The first had to do with some voice issues in Mat's narrative. (I've spoken of that elsewhere.) The second had to do with continuity errors. I am not nearly as good at dealing with those as Robert Jordan was—I know he made mistakes, but I felt I made more. So for this project, I enlisted the help of some very detail-oriented members of the fan community as beta readers in an attempt to keep myself honest and catch mistakes before they went to press.
There are things in this book, like in any book I've written, that I fully suspect will draw complaints. In some cases, I know exactly what they are—and I did them that way because I felt it was best for the story and the best way to remain true to Robert Jordan's vision. It's the ones that I DON'T expect, but which ring true, that I want to find and correct.
In The Gathering Storm, Egwene was mostly RJ, Rand mostly Brandon. In Towers of Midnight, Mat mostly RJ, Perrin mostly Brandon.
/r/Fantasy is closing in on 10,000 readers and, to celebrate, one lucky r/Fantasy member will win a hardcover copy of The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man's Fear—signed by Patrick Rothfuss with a personalized message of the winner's choice.
To enter, simply put your favorite fantasy-related quote below. Don't have a favorite quote? Hmm...google one up or just write down something clever.
At an arbitrary point of my choosing on Friday, February 3rd I will tally up the total number of people who entered and use a random number generator to help pick the winner.
So tempted to post a quote from the unpublished last book of the Wheel of Time here.
If you win, your personalised inscription could be one for the ages.
"I, Patrick Rothfuss, acknowledge that Brandon Sanderson's beard is superior to mine."
Ha. Now that might just be worth it...
Of course, I already have Pat's books signed to me. I don't want to take the chance from anyone else. More importantly, though, I haven't gotten back edits on A Memory of Light from Harriet yet—so any line I post could be one that she decided to cut, or one she found a continuity error in. If I had a draft she'd seen, I might actually do it.
Mat does say "Blood and Bloody Ashes!" a few times, though. Does that count?
If not, at least post a quote from another source. I find it interesting to see what one the best writers of the genre (not to blow smoke up your ass) favorite quote is.
From the Wheel of Time, it's Lan's "Portion of Wisdom" quote.
"You can never know everything, and part of what you do know will always be wrong. Perhaps even the most important part. A portion of wisdom lies in knowing this. A portion of courage lies in going on anyway."
From any fantasy work? Wow, that would be a tough one. Maybe Vimes on the economics of buying new footwear?
*we talked about this for a while, and I didn’t take any notes on that part of the conversation (so it was nothing big) we dropped back into interesting stuff a bit later and I resumed note taking*
I will say that, in the course of writing A Memory of Light, I learned some very interesting things that went against some strong preconceptions I had about the Horn. Some of the ideas I had, about how it worked, turned out to be incorrect.
Brandon again spoke of Aviendha and the Aiel, due to the way they think, mentioning how he went through several drafts and back and forths with Harriet, whilst doing multiple re-reads of Aviendha’s POVs.
Then he spoke of Mat, saying that Mat is such a complicated character, though you might not think he is at first glance. He is an unreliable narrator, with vast differences between how he thinks and how he acts, and that Jim’s Mat POV’s are some of the best in the series. He then spoke of his own writing and that because of these elements it’s easy to miss things with Mat, and that that is why his early scenes in The Gathering Storm are not as good as his scenes in Towers of Midnight, where Brandon began to ‘get him’. Brandon finished by saying he’s best in A Memory of Light.
(This is not verbatim.) Yes, I did, and I know there is a flow issue there. They were amongst the first chapters I wrote and at that stage I had not realized that most of Mat's humor is in how he reacts to his surroundings.
There was a bit more to this; I wish I could recall more, but a lot of cues I need are missing from these notes, although what I have has been brilliant so far. Many thanks to my faithful Gaidin.
Brandon drew a graph of A Memory of Light's structure and explained in some details how he ended up re structuring it as three books. Not much that isn't already known in there, book 12 will have two main story lines (we know it's Rand and Egwene, but as I said Brandon didn't say so explicitly at the Q&A) and teasers for three more (Mat—and seemingly Perrin and Elayne). By 'teasers', Brandon precised he means 3 or 4 chapters per story line, the rest of the chapters being divided between the two main story lines (by recent books, this could means Egwene/Rand have about 10-12 chapters each, or a few more). Some developments happen in the teasers but it's not huge stuff, more like set ups chapters for what happens in book 13.
Book 13 will have the opposite, with 3-4 chapters each for Egwene and Rand, "toward the end". Brandon kept those for book 13 to avoid spoiling in The Gathering Storm the climax of book 13, which will mark the reunion of all the main story lines at some location, and launch Tarmon Gai'don. So in book 13 we will have the residual Rand/Egwene chapters that specifically build up to the reunion.
Brandon explained the decision to split the books this way came about between Harriet and him, in part to avoid the "Crossroads of Twilight trap". Apparently, RJ went that way in Winter's Heart/Crossroads of Twilight mostly because he had been affected by all the grief he got for keeping Mat out of The Path of Daggers. He decided to try to put all the main characters in the next books, even if it meant all the story lines would advance more slowly if they were all told in parallel like this. He very much regretted this after Crossroads of Twilight, for which he got even more grief than for The Path of Daggers, and decided to return to his more organic/uneven approach for Knife of Dreams and A Memory of Light. The original plan for The Gathering Storm was to develop all the story lines in parallel again, but Brandon and Harriet had qualms about this and Brandon came up with an alternative to focus on two story lines in one and three in the other.
There is one of the 'POV clusters' Brandon had written that it mostly unused for The Gathering Storm and will go in book 13.
Brandon of course wouldn't tell who is the character not in The Gathering Storm at all, though he gave a few clues. Piecing all his bits of answers together, the character isn't Aviendha, Cadsuane or Nynaeve, nor Mat (the only character he confirmed is in the two first books, but we already knew this). He basically destroyed the speculation it could be Perrin by hesitating on the words 'major character' and then adding the bit that the vast majority of fans would actually place this character at the very bottom of the list of characters to be considered 'major'. The way he put Elayne over and over among the five really major ones during the Q&A suggests it's not her either after all. He also said while explaining his graph that there were chunks (his "teasers" for three story lines in The Gathering Storm and the core of the story for two—and his 'five' clusters he explicitly said were Rand, Egwene, Perrin, Mat and Elayne.
So perhaps we've read too much in his 'major POV character' comment (Jason's review may also allude to this, when he commented that one major character is missing but it's pretty much up to each reader to decide who is major and not in WOT). At some point, he said a major POV character in A Memory of Light will be missing in The Gathering Storm, which is not exactly the same as saying a major POV character from the earlier books isn't in The Gathering Storm—which is the way his previous comment was interpreted by many.
Lan isn't a major POV character in the earlier books, but now he's on his own he may very well become one in A Memory of Light.
In any case, I'm more and more thinking it's Lan (or possibly Moiraine), not Elayne or Perrin which I doubt many would place 'at the very bottom' of the list of characters to be considered major. Most people would place Elayne not near the bottom at all but among the top 7 or 8 most important characters. Above Moiraine and Lan, Thom, Loial and probably even Min and Aviendha.
-first- Rumors: he said that rumors are just rumors. About Trolloc attacks, specifically, he said that "Trollocs have been attacking, or invading in various places for months" and that rumors abound in all sorts of forms about them.
With regard to the White Tower attack—I prompted this one a little, and he said that they are simply rumors which have coalesced from multiple rumors together, nothing related specifically to the real attack adding that "in the Wheel of Time rumors sometimes have a tendency to double back on themselves" turning into truth eventually.
As for the horse riding in Caemlyn, I asked him specifically about Rand seeing Mat and Thom on horses in Caemlyn, but Mat in Chapter 8 was not taking his horse into the city, and he responded by saying that Rand didn't see Mat in this specific scene and assured me that all that would work out in the rest of the book.
He did admit that there has been one "hitch" found in The Gathering Storm as per chronology that will be changed in upcoming editions. If I remember correctly he said Mat is roughly two weeks behind where he was meant to be and explained that Mat's position in time at the end of The Gathering Storm was supposed to be two weeks earlier than it was portrayed as being.
Well—this is something I'd like to understand better—and hear it verbatim. I'm not sure I understand what is being said by the reporter.
This means that something currently in The Gathering Storm needed to be retconned to get the timeline to work and will be changed in future editions of The Gathering Storm. Unfortunately, there wasn't time to get it changed in the paperback that's coming out this month. I'm guessing the change will affect only a sentence or two.
Retconning was a last resort that they really didn't want to have to take, but it was unavoidable.
Team Jordan has a very detailed chronology that looks in many respects similar to Steven Cooper's chronology, but Steven's is a bit off in a few areas. Certain beta readers helped verify it was nailed down.
And Terez: It doesn't have to do with Sulin. Actually, they decided Sulin needed to be retconned earlier. You can find out in the paperback of The Gathering Storm how that was worked out.
Basically, it is to do mainly with her environment whilst with Mat. For the first time she was with someone close to her who she can trust. We know how they do things in the Imperial family. After Thanksgiving gatherings they have to do a roll call for the survivors.
Back amongst the Seanchan she is home to chaos and a totally different situation. She will have much different mindset. Also, in Towers of Midnight she is dealing with the White Tower—an issue which makes the most placid Seanchan go rabid.
When I pushed Brandon regarding possible involvement of Greandal, he refuted it. Or at least said that if I am "digging" for something—there is nothing I can find. Something to that effect.
So, I didn't get to ask many questions. I spent lunch with Brandon, but pestering him with questions seemed inappropriate at the time and the Q&A was after his reading/book signing which I had to leave early.
But two things he did say.
One, recently he read an email a fan sent; this particular fan picked the right small detail. Two—I asked him regarding the big impact of the small detail and he said we have been discussing this big event, which I felt he implied that we (fandom) have been discussing this big event for a long time.
As to other questions, I plan to attend DragonCon, so I recommend we get a list of questions together for that event (still have three months).
A Memory of Light teaser: The book contains a new verse to a beloved WoT song. (Just posting to let you all know the revision goes well.)
Do you revise sections that Mr Jordan wrote, or just your own? No implication, just curious. :-)
It's a good question. I initially tried to leave them all alone and let Harriet revise them.
She told me to be more aggressive in smoothing out scenes to blend them together. I still do try to touch his as little as I can.
First tweet to you, but I wanted to say I'm so very excited for A Memory of Light! Can we change the release to January 7th? That's my birthday!
I'll see what I can do... ;)
I'll be reading a new section from A Memory of Light at Dragon*Con. My complete schedule is here.
Tor dot com has posted the excerpt from A Memory of Light that I'm reading today.
A little disgusted that you included a throwaway line about Tylin raping Mat. Still buying the book though. Probably twice.
Hard to ignore that it happened, returning to the city as he was.
... you re-awakened the Mat/Tylin sexual assault vs. super funny joke fury. Ahh the indignant fandom. *sighs*
*sighs in agreement*
I feel the same way about all the characters saying "you go Tylin" in A Crown of Swords, too.
It is one of the WoT's most controversial sequences, to be sure.
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
Let's see here. Harriet killed a character in the book that I did not intend to kill. So I wrote the entire book with a character living and she killed this character.
Did she tell you right before you finished, or what?
She sent back the draft and said "This person dies."
So did you have to change a lot?
So they succumb to their wounds. I intended them to live, so there is a character who died unexpectedly. So that's a slight spoiler. There is like a chapter that's over a hundred pages. It's a Super Chapter.
Did you have to invent any of it yourself, or did Jordan leave a lot of it for you?
He left some of it for me, and then I had to make the rest. As you're reading through the books, probably about half and half. Half will be stuff that he wrote notes on, half will be stuff that I wrote.
Do you feel like it comes pretty easy?
Some of it does. I mean I've been reading since I was a kid. So some of the characters like Perrin is very natural for me. And Rand's super natural for me. Others are a little less natural for me.
Yes, like Mat. Mat's harder for me to write.
Why is that?
Because Mat is very complex. Not to say that Perrin's not, but Perrin's straightforward. You know what I mean? Perrin says what he means, and does what he means. Mat says the opposite of what he means, and does the opposite of what he says. Making that tone correct for that is very hard. He's one part rapscallion, the other part Awesomeness. And balancing when he's playing the fool, and when he's just being awesome is very hard to get that balance down, because you don't want it to be silly, you know he can play the fool a bit but he shouldn't be silly. Otherwise it won't match from when he's being Awesome as well, if that makes sense.
Everything that I've read in the notes indicates that they are from his ta'veren nature, and that they are a manifestation of being ta'veren [?] related to his [?]
One of Perrin's manifestations, visions in the Wolf Dream...
Partially. Perrin's manifestation is also...he draws to him things that he needs; what he needs comes to Perrin. That's actually his primary manifestation of being ta'veren.
So what's the difference between what Perrin does and what Egwene does?
Oh boy. Can I get into this? They are similar, but not the same. What Egwene does is partially a Talent of the Power, and it's related to the Power. And Perrin is not.
Is it [?] him being a Wolfbrother?
[?] if he chose to.
It is related to him being a Wolfbrother.
Why can the wolves not see it?
I honestly don't remember the answer to that.
Ah. Yes. You have before. [To Maria] You're wanting to nod. [To questioner.] Maria's here. [To Maria] Do you want to handle this one?
I can't remember details, but there's a scene where Mat remembers being on both sides of a battle.
Because he rode for and against Hawkwing.
Yeah. So in this last book, Mat's memories will certainly play a part. That's a very nice RAFO.
It will be very hard to do simply because, you know, you would have a lot of sentences that would four colors in them (laughter), because, here are three words from Brandon; here are a couple of words from Robert Jordan; the rest are from Harriet, that she has edited, and then here's the insertion by Maria as she's doing the copy-edit, that something needed to be [put] in. It would be very difficult to get right.
The other thing is, Harriet has several times expressed a reluctance to let people see the notes because she doesn't want people focusing when reading the books on what was me and what is Jim. I do still kinda tend to work on her and see if I can get her to let us do something with the notes. I'm not too expectant—if it doesn't happen I'm gonna be fine—but I tend to ask on behalf of the fans, people like yourself, and if I can do that I can then bring them out and I will talk a little bit more about that.
One thing that I've said to people a number of times, that in each of the three books there is a prologue [scene] that Robert Jordan wrote almost completely, or completely, for the prologue of the book, then since we split it in three, I took one scene from each completely that is Robert Jordan's—and there are a few fragments in each prologue as well that were also his—but there's one complete scene in the prologue. In the first book, it was the farmer sitting on the doorsteps watching the storm; that was one of the scenes he dictated, and we actually at JordanConI got to listen to that dictation. In the second book it was the Borderlander tower with the soldier and his son; that was one of the more complete scenes we had from Robert Jordan which had some minimal revision and editing during the process but was basically a complete scene that he gave us. And there's one like that in the third book as well.
In The Gathering Storm, I've said before that, as the notes went, Rand was a little more me; there were fewer notes on Rand. There were more notes on Egwene. We're both involved in all the viewpoints, but Rand from that is a little more me, and Egwene's a little more Robert Jordan, and then in Towers of Midnight, Perrin's a little bit more me, and Mat is a little more Robert Jordan. And maybe we'll be able to release more than that, but so far that's about all I've said. There are certain scenes that he did write, by the way—I'll give you everything; this is what I've told people; I haven't told people much—but there's a certain scene in The Gathering Storm where Egwene has an unexpected meeting with an old friend in the Tower. That one was done by Robert Jordan. And in Towers of Midnight, there is...most of the Mat stuff including the ending where a certain engagement happens was Robert Jordan.
“Aviendha and Tuon are the ones I worked the hardest on, but I expected them to be hard. I wasn’t expecting Mat to be hard. That blindsided me.” Brandon explained that in general the Andoran characters are the easiest for him to write as, “They feel like friends from high school.” So it surprised Brandon when he sat down to write Mat and discovered that he didn’t have an immediate grasp on him. Brandon eventually realized it was because, unlike the other characters, “Mat is an untrustworthy narrator. He doesn’t always believe what he says and he doesn’t even always believe the thoughts in his own head. He’s a character I’ve struggled to write but I think I’ve gotten as close to him as it’s possible for me to get.” (The positive reaction to the Mat chapter he read certainly put weight to this statement.)
He also, tongue-in-cheek, admitted that before he wrote Cadsuane she was his least favorite character. “She was just too mean!”
Mat's voice really changed from The Gathering Storm to Towers of Midnight. In The Gathering Storm he seemed almost a parody of himself, while in Towers of Midnight he eased back on his roguish nature and felt much more real. Why do you think Mat came across that way in The Gathering Storm, and were you specifically motivated to correct it in Towers of Midnight or did that happen naturally?
One of the big dangers in doing what I'm doing is turning the characters into parodies of themselves, exactly as you stated. This is kind of the 'uncanny valley' of working in someone else's world. If you get them close, but still wrong, it can feel worse than if you'd been more off.
Jason from Dragonmount, in the early reads, was the first one to warn me that Mat was "off." I was surprised, as I felt I'd gotten him down. However, in going back to Mr. Jordan's writing and delving into it, I realized I'd missed large parts of what made Mat into Mat—the tension between what he says and does, the constant little quips in narrative (which tend to be more clever than the actual things he says out loud), the complaining that isn't really complaining. I didn't understand Mat. I tried so hard to make him funny, I wrote the HIM out of him. (I feel Peter Jackson did some of this with Gimli in the Lord of the Rings films.)
So I'd say I was specifically motivated rather than it happening naturally. I should mention, however, that the sequences RJ worked on for Mat all ended up in Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light, not in The Gathering Storm. Some of what you are noticing isn't me, but the master himself.
Thanks for the reply!
I can appreciate the difficulty of trying to write someone else's characters! For what its worth, Mat was the only one who gave off the uncanny valley feeling. Given the number of characters Mr. Jordan created I'd think that was quite a bit of an accomplishment.
I'll try to sum up a few other things I remember:
We talked about if he laughed when fans were guessing who wrote what and getting it way wrong. He said the story he could tell about that was someone looking at the chapter titles to tGS and saying they could tell that Brandon wrote those when of course Harriet has named all the chapters since the start.
He was disappointed that DKS couldn't finished the last cover even though he really thinks Whelan is the best fantasy artist around. He likened it to the same as it being too bad that he had to finish the series instead of RJ.
He talked some more about how he felt Mat was the hardest character to get write because he's pretty complicated. His thoughts don't always match up with his actions and it was hard to strike the right tone.
He knows that his action sequences don't sound like RJ's. He said he just doesn't have the real world experience that RJ did as a combat soldier so he just writes them as the best action scenes that he can.
He said Perrin was his favorite character so one of his goals was to redeem the character a bit and make him awesome again.
I asked about his Alcatraz books and he said there will be one more but it's not high on the priority list and will be several years. He also said the Scholastic distribution wasn't great and he's working on buying back the rights and bringing the series to TOR for wider distribution and ebook release.
Stuff like that. Nothing that hasn't been covered before.
Will we see more of the serious, dark Mat that we left in Knife of Dreams? That is, the one Tuon refers to as...
... "a lion on the high plains" and who leaves wounded enemy combatants to suffer and die (Knife of Dreams ch. 27)? Thanks for your time.
I've tried. I do worry that sometimes I'm too lighthearted with Mat, and need to remember his dangerous side too.
I have attempted to walk this balance in A Memory of Light.
Perrin forging his hammer is probably my favorite that I worked on extensively. My favorite that Jim worked on extensively would be Verin's last scene. Rand atop Dragonmount at the end of The Gathering Storm is a pretty big one for me. In the last book, my favorite would have to be Lan's charge right at the end, which is a scene that I worked out years ago, that I pointed a lot of things toward, and specifically in this book built a lot of things around. For a fun scene, getting Mat on the back of a raken was a pure joy for me to be able to do.
What other scenes really stand out to me? Robert Jordan's last scene, which I've mentioned before, is a great one because it's become the focus, for me, for the entire sequence that I have written. From the beginning, that was the ending that I was working toward. So I was very excited to be able to actually get there.
That's just a few scenes; there are a lot of them in this book and the series.
Brandon Sanderson on writing Robert Jordan's characters:
"I'm going to bring my own interpretation as a longtime fan of the characters, and in most cases they're spot-on with what most people think—there haven't been many complaints about my Perrin, for instance. In some cases there are complaints and they're right. My early Mat was off, and I acknowledged this, I looked at what the people were saying. In other cases, such as Lan, they're wrong. [Laughs] What can I say? I'm a fan too, and we will have these arguments about whether this character would do this or that character would do that, and you'll find that in any community. On the other hand I do get complaints and the complaints are legit. I'm not Robert Jordan, and I can't do some of the things he could simply because I don't have his life experience and in many ways I'm not as good a writer as he was. . . And if that really bothers you, then hopefully we can get the original notes released . . . so that those for whom my interpretation was not good, or my failings ruined the experience for them, they can at least look at what Robert Jordan had and imagine their own story."
It was based on a lot of different languages. He had shelves and shelves of language books—every language, practically, known to man—but it was a lot of creativity on his part to put it all together.
Another fun story here. At one point, when I was visiting Charleston, I was talking about the mythological significance of certain things, and I'm like, "I can't figure out the mythological significance of the ashandarei." I knew pieces of Mat's mythological significance—not based on language, but the mythology—and Harriet said, "Oh, I know where it came from." She ran out to his library, selected a specific volume, came back with it and gave it to me and said, "It's this chapter right here." And showed me a chapter in that book that I could read that talked about the mythological significance of that specific piece of the Wheel of Time world. And so, there are all sorts of things like that that he used.
(to Melissa) Cool t-shirt! [laughter]
Hi; my name's Melissa Snedeker; I'm from Colorado Springs. I have been reading the series for about ten years now. Love it. My question is to Brandon. There is a notable difference between you and Robert Jordan's writing. I was wondering what the biggest influence that you had on the books [was], and what were your main thoughts that you added on top of Robert Jordan's?
I usually shy away from saying too much about this because we prefer that when you read the books you not spend a lot of time trying to figure out what was me and what was Robert Jordan. It's safe to say that, at any given point in the book, you will find my influence and his influence.
That said, I've said before the epilogue of this book—and significant chunks of the last little part as well, but specifically the epilogue—was written by him before he passed away, so you do know that. Things I've said before—and I'm probably not going to say much more than this, at least until the books have been out for a while—in Gathering Storm, if it was Egwene, Egwene's plotline was more Robert Jordan, and Rand's plotline was a little more me—we both were involved in both, but there is that—and if it was in Towers of Midnight, Mat's plotline was more Robert Jordan, and Perrin's plotline was more me.
But it's really hard to get down into specifics, because I don't want you focusing on that, and beyond that, I've even started to forget. [laughter] Because I've been working on this... No really! You guys laugh about that, but I've been working on it so long, I will do things, and it's things that came out of the notes, and then I'll go back and look and I have forgotten that those things came from the notes, because at this point in the creative process, you're building a book, and you're looking for the inspirations from the stories or from the notes, and they're kind of sometimes the same to me, whether it's the notes or the stories. And so, anyway, I'm sorry to give you kind of a roundabout non-answer to your question, but maybe in another year or so I can say a little bit more. But really, we would rather it just remain....we don't want it to be at the forefront of people's minds when they're reading.
Yeah. Alright, thank you so much.
My name is Anthony Gould. I've been reading the series quite a bit. I've read 1-13 ten times. [murmurs, woos] And so...and I actually planned to read A Memory of Light ten times in a row before I read any other book...[laughter]...just so I have something to say instead of saying, "I've read every other book ten times, and I've read this one once." That'd be bad.
But yeah, so my question I think is directed at Harriet, mostly. I was thinking, well, is the character Mat Cauthon—did Robert Jordan base that character on him?
Maria was saying something earlier today that would suggest what you think he did...? (looks at Maria)
Somewhat. I would go for that. He told somebody, I think more than once, that all the female characters were based on me. [laughter] In the same way, I think that perhaps he based all the male characters on him, including Padan Fain and the like. [laughter]
Traits he had in common with Mat: There's one point Mat's talking to Olver about turtle shells, and Mat's thinking about a turtle shell he had. Jim—Robert Jordan—had a shelf of turtle shells in the office, and he did like to play cards and other games. [laughter] Yeah, there were aspects of Jim in Mat.
And to quit a job as a civilian engineer working for the United States Navy in order to write fiction...if that isn't the act of a gambler, I don't know what is. [laughter, applause]
Alright, well thank you then!
That is an excellent question...that I'm not allowed to answer. (Sorry.) I feel bad. I'm giving you lots of RAFOs.
Is Rand still ta'veren? If not, how did he warp reality and light his pipe at the end?
These are questions that I'm not answering, I'm afraid. RJ wanted some things about the ending to remain ambiguous.
How can you still be RAFO'ing stuff? What is left to read?
To RJ, RAFO sometimes meant "Read, think about it, and decide." It didn't always mean "I'll give an answer."
Is 'RAFO' basically to mean we're never going to find some things out?
There's a "Talk it over, see if you can figure it out" aspect to it as well.
No, he didn't, but I just couldn't fit it in logistically.
Mat/Perrin Rand/Perrin and Rand/Mat from these two books was my nod toward that.
Here's a tidbit from yesterday's signing:
Brandon revealed the gist of the two lines written for the outrigger novels. He says they will be released eventually, but the gists are: The first is about Mat waking up in a gutter somewhere, likely in Seanchan. The second is about Perrin heading out and thinking about how he may be forced to kill a friend.
I was at the Toronto A Memory of Light signing last night, and one of the things Brandon mentioned was that Robert had plans for TWO more WOT trilogies!
He then killed all our hope by saying that there will not be any more WOT books as per Robert's request. The WOT is done.
He also mentioned that the sequels only had one sentence each for a description. He didn't say what they were out loud as it could spoil A Memory of Light for people.
I asked him what they were as I was getting my books signed and this is what he said:
The first is "Perrin is going to Shara to kill an old friend."
I got Trae Cooper to ask Brandon about this in Atlanta, because I was pretty sure it was supposed to be Seanchan rather than Shara. Trae reported that it was indeed supposed to be Seanchan.
And the second is:
"Matt lying in a gutter wearing a tattered cloak."
I'm thinking the Perrin one could be him going to kill Rand or Gaul. Could also be Longtooth. It could also be "old friend" in a sarcastic way and could be some form of Slayer returned.
The Mat one could be him having issues with the rebels back in Seanchan? That one's very vague.
Unfortunately we'll never know as even Sanderson knows nothing beyond these two sentences, but still exciting!
Ta'veren Telepathy in Technicolor (TM): what was the point?
Not totally sure; RJ's notes just said "This keeps happening up to the very end." Narratively, to keep attention focused on the Superboys, and to connect timelines.
Who was his favorite character to write and who does he see himself the most in?
Perrin was his favorite. Even though Perrin went through "a slump" in the series in order to build tension, Brandon always stayed "Team Perrin." Perrin was the most natural. Mat was tough and thus a cooler character to write. Brandon enjoyed writing Mat, especially in A Memory of Light. Mat challenged his skills more than anyone else. The saddest part for him with finishing the series is that he can't write Mat anymore.
Harriet added that there will not be any more WoT books (other than the encyclopedia). She said that Robert Jordan hated the idea of someone taking his material, although he did want the series finished. He stated he would run over his hard drive before allowing others to "sharecrop." Harriet stated that the two sentences about the outriggers that Robert Jordan left behind will be released in April or May. She said that with the encyclopedia there is "the work of at least a year."
Um, was there any connection between Mat's luck and the dagger?
Um, not that I know of. Good question, but we can MAFO that one, but you can give the, "not that I know of". I'm still kind of...you know, the Mat's luck being beyond him being ta'veren, is one that's very interesting to me, because everything that I know says that his luck does extend beyond his ta'verenness, but...
Well, it's like his whole plotline seems kinda designed as like this revenge story for Manetheren against Aridhol, you know?
Yeah, uh-huh. Yep.
And, you know, he starts speaking the Old Tongue right before they go into Shadar Logoth; that's the first time he speaks it...
...you know, and then as soon as he wakes up from the Healing, he's got memories, he's got this luck, you know?
The name...how do you pronounce it? Is it no-tay, or no-tie?
Oh, it's...you pronounce the K.
Oh, you pronounce the K!
....according to Alan, who is the Old Tongue expert, who corrected me on it even though I named him.
So say it!
k'no-tie. But Alan can correct me, because Alan is the expert.
Does it have any mythological basis that you know of?
No, it does not that I know of, because that one, as most of the names—not all of them, but most of them that I named, because I named him—came from me writing something in English, and saying, "Alan, give me the Old Tongue."
And so, there are times where he'll find something, and I'll be like, "Oh, that sounds like this! Let's use it. Oh, this sounds like this; let's use it." Most of the time, it's...he comes up with the direct translation.
Like, Shaisam, actually...
Yeah, I mean that's easy to figure out for us, right?
Yeah. And there are some where I say, "Let's find something that feels like this..." and then, you know, of course, Perrin's hammer, right?
That's one where you're like, you know, let's find an Old Tongue translation that works for what the mythological symbolism is.
And that works well. It's hard to pronounce though.
Yeah, it is a little hard to pronounce though.
Can you pronounce it?
MAH-HAHL-in-ear? Eh...ask Alan.
Perrin felt his ta'veren-ness melting away. If Mat lost it too, does he lose his luck?
I don't believe that he does. Being a ta'veren has a distinct effect on him, but I think there is an innate luckiness to Mat, partially drawn from the fact that the Heroes [of the Horn] call him Gambler. And so in other lives where he would not have been ta'veren he was still a gambler and still lucky. However, I do think being a ta'veren meant that the luck was greatly magnified, and I think it grew stronger and stronger through the series. That's my read on it from the notes, and I'm pretty sure on that one. I have to give the caveat that there could be something out there that contradicts me.
What happens next? Somebody please tell me.
Well I can tell you a few things actually. The sequel trilogy that he was writing, he left us two sentences. One is, Mat is dicing in a gutter somewhere. And the other is Perrin is on a boat traveling to Seanchan thinking about how he's got to go kill a friend.
I was told that Talmanes was initially introduced as Mat's foil character, just for that purpose. Is that true?
I don't know for sure, but I would bet it is. Just seeing the way that Robert Jordan used things like that. I would bet so.
How is Mat's new name pronounced?
According to Alan Romanczuk, you do pronounce the "k".
(As Harriet says, any way you say it is OK. Check the glossaries for some help.)
Can you speak to why Leilwen did not try to contact Elayne while she was in Caemlyn?
(pause) I'm trying to remember.
When Mat came to Caemlyn, she was with him. Mat saw Elayne, but she didn't.
I don't know why she didn't.
I don't know that one.
It's not in the notes?
Not that I have found. Searching the notes is....it's an imperfect science. Like if it's a rare character, it's real easy, because I open my desktop search, and I put in that name and not much comes up, but you put in "Tinkers"...you know, there are hundreds of files where the Tinkers are mentioned. If I had one of them's name? You know. I'm hoping to find out; I'm still finding new little bits and pieces here and there, so...
Lastly, and IMO, most important. While he stated he was paraphrasing from memory, he revealed the "two sentences" that Jordan had left for the outriggers. The first was a scene of Mat in a wool cap laying in a gutter having gambled away everything. The second was a scene with Perrin on a ship thinking that he was going to have to go kill a friend.
Hey Brandon! I'm the redheaded dude who was helping at the last two Midnight Release parties, and I am actually at BYU right now. I have two questions:
I know you've said you can't answer these directly, so, rather than give the "official" answer, I was wondering if you could give us your "fan theory" on the answer, as if you weren't the writer.
What do you think about Mat, Rand, and Perrin keeping certain "abilities"? I know you've said that they may or may not still be ta'veren, and Perrin thinks they aren't, but can Perrin still talk to wolves? Is Mat still lucky? Does Mat still have his memories?
In your opinion, who do you think Nakomi was? Do you like the "Nakomi is the avatar of the Creator theory"? Do you think of her as the third member of the Christian godhead?
Finally, Harriet was quoted as saying that she thinks Rand's special ability at the end was a "new magic"? Do you agree? Or do you think it is something else?
Thanks for being awesome!
1. Perrin can still talk to wolves. That is certain. Also, Mat keeps his memories. These two are official, not theories on my part. What I can't give official on is the ta'veren-ness of the guys. I don't think RJ ever even says in the notes. Me? I think they aren't.
2. I'm too close to this one. I can't say, unfortunately. I can answer as a fan for things I don't know because it's not in the notes, or for things I could theorize about before I came onto the project. For things I learned about while working, I don't have a "fan" perspective, only a writer perspective. Sorry.
3. Harriet is more likely to be right than I am, but I don't believe it is a new magic. I think it is a result of Rand touching the Pattern directly.
Awesome! So, I'm still unsure about Mat's luck. Would you say that's part of his "ta'veren-ness?"
Thanks for the great answers. I'm more at peace now with some of the previous answers you've given.
My gut tells me Mat still has his luck, but not to the extent he once had. But I have no foundation for this in the notes.
Oh, my question was does Perrin lose a body part in the book, since Mat has lost one, Rand has lost one, does Perrin lose one next?
Perrin’s body part was the knee, where he got shot through the leg with the arrow. Because the mythological symbolism is with Mat- it’s the Odin mythology, and Odin lost an eye. Perrin is actually the blacksmith mythology, which if you’ve read in Hephaestus and Perun and of the various blacksmiths, they usually have a bad leg. I wasn’t going to chop off his leg. I had that wound, and he kind of feels a phantom wound, if you’ll read in the last book there are several times where his leg aches even though he was healed. That’s the symbolism there.
So, did you just decide to [inaudible] or was that..?
No, Robert Jordan had done that, that was him.
I wasn’t sure if I was just coming up with a fantasy or not.
Though I knew he had to be wounded in the leg, I didn’t know how or how badly so I kind of came up with how it happened.
The Gathering Storm: What did I do wrong?
My take on Mat is very divisive among Wheel of Time fans. A great number feel I did him poorly in The Gathering Storm. I've had a similar number approach me and tell me they like my Mat better than they did in previous books. Unfortunately, in doing so, these latter readers prove that the first readers are right. People don't come to me and say "I like your Perrin" or "I dislike your Perrin." They don't do it for Rand, Egwene, or any of the other major characters. While undoubtedly there are some who feel this way about those characters, there isn't a consensus opinion among a large number of fans as there is that Mat was DIFFERENT in The Gathering Storm. Those who like him better are likely ones who just naturally prefer the way I do a roguish character as opposed to the way Robert Jordan did one. It doesn't mean Mat is better—just that I wrote him differently, and anytime there's a difference, some will prefer the changed version. (There are even people who prefer New Coke!)
I don't mean to demean the opinions of those who feel Mat was great in The Gathering Storm. I'm glad you enjoyed him, and I think there is some excellent writing involved in his viewpoints. However, I feel that I was wrong and the critics are right. Looking at Robert Jordan's Mat and what I wrote, there are some subtle differences that made Mat read wrong to a sizable portion of the audience. (Jason Denzel, who is a good friend, was the first to point it out to me—not maliciously, but truthfully. His comment was along the lines of, "I think your take on Mat feels like very early books Mat." This was a nice way of saying that my Mat lacked some of the depth of characterization he'd gained over the course of the latter books of the series.)
My Mat wasn't an attempt to fix or change Mat—the sense that Mat is "off" was created by me trusting my instincts and in this case being wrong. You see, as I say above, I discovery-write characters. I write a viewpoint, and then judge if it has the right feel. I try again, changing the way the character reacts and thinks, until I arrive at the right feel. It's like casting different actors in a role, and I do this quite deliberately—I feel that there is a danger in outlining as much as I do. It risks leaving your characters feeling wooden, that they are simply filling roles in a plot. (I find that many thrillers, which as a genre focus on tight plotting, have this problem.)
To combat this, I let my characters grow more organically. I allow them to violate the plot outline, and then revise the outline to fit the people they are becoming. They often do this, but mostly in very small ways—usually, my casting process finds the right person for the plot, and this doesn't require major revisions as they grow.
However, I've read The Wheel of Time over and over—and I had never noticed that my picture of Mat was still deeply influenced by his book one/two appearance. The sidekick rogue. While some of my favorite parts of the series are his latter appearances where he gains a great deal of characterization (although this starts in book three), I cast the wrong Mat in these books, and I simply wrote him poorly. It was a version of Mat, and I don't think it's a disaster—but he's much farther from his correct characterization than the other characters are.
The interesting thing about this is, though it is the biggest mistake I made in my writing of The Gathering Storm, it also is one of the things that taught me the most. My digging into viewpoint for the next book became one of the greatest learning experiences of my career so far.
To be continued.
Robert Jordan had written much of Mat's plot, and left instructions on much of the rest. My challenge with Mat in this book, then, wasn't to complete his arc—which was quite good. It was to do a better job with Mat than I had in the previous book.
In order to do Mat right, I went back to Robert Jordan's writing. This time, I dissected Mat, looking at him as a craftsman. I saw a depth of internal narrative that was unlike anything I'd analyzed before. Of all the Wheel of Time characters, Mat is the least trustworthy narrator. What he thinks, feels, and does are sometimes three very different things. His narrative itself is filled with snark and beautifully clever lines, but a relative few of those actually leave his lips. The harder he tries to do something, often the worse it turns out for him. Mat's at his best when he lets instinct lead, regardless of what his internal monologue says.
This makes him very tricky to write, and is why my initial gut instinct on how to do him was wrong. I think for a lot of Wheel of Time readers, Mat is the big surprise in the series. The sometimes snarky, but often grumpy sidekick from the first two books transforms into a unique blend of awesomeness I haven't found in any other story.
I feel that my stab at writing Mat in Towers of Midnight is far better than it was in The Gathering Storm, though I'm not sure I got him right until A Memory of Light. I know some fans will disagree that I ever did get him right, but I am pleased with—and comfortable with—the Mat of these latter two books. Though, of course, having Robert Jordan's more detailed instructions for Mat in these books does help.
To be continued.
Everything I'm saying right now is not 100% canon, because I'm only working off of my guesstimates based on his notes. I believe that Mat's luck is a soul attribute that is independent of him being a ta'veren, but enhanced by his ta'veren nature. Part of the proof of this is the Heroes of the Horn knowing him as Gambler, which means in other Ages when he's been born and not been ta'veren, he's still had luck and attraction to things like that. Plus things in the notes, I'm basing on that. So it does not necessarily mean they aren't ta'veren right now, but even if they weren't, I think Mat would still have his luck.
So you don't know whether they're ta'veren or not?
I do not know. My suspicion is that if he would have written the outriggers, Mat still would have been, and maybe Perrin, because Perrin was going to be in the outriggers, we know this. But I don't know for sure. But I think it would have been fun, if in some parallel dimension if I were to have written them, which I'm never going to, I would have not made Mat ta'veren, or Perrin, I would have made Tuon ta'veren, and forced Mat to deal with someone else who was ta'veren, which I think would have been interesting.