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Your search for the tag 'rj on writing' yielded 649 results

  • 1

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Tibur

    Hi. I love your books and I was just wondering where you got your ideas for the series. It's like nothing ever published before!

    Robert Jordan

    It all started with wondering what it was really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you are the savior of mankind. Ten years of thinking about that, and I began writing.

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  • 2

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Scarlet

    Hi, it's such a pleasure to meet you, I'm a BIG fan. Anyway, your books have so many richly developed characters and so many complex, interwoven plot threads, could you please comment on your preliminary processes such as outlining, character biographies, etc.?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm sorry, it just isn't that simple. I simply do it, and it would take me all night to explain how, if I could.

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  • 3

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Drayken

    When did you decide to become a writer? Did you always want to write or did it come later in life?

    Robert Jordan

    At five, while reading Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, I decided I wanted to write, but I always thought I would do it "one day," after I had a practical career. Then I was injured and I had a lot of time on my hands, so I decided to put up or shut up about this "one day" stuff. To my surprise, somebody actually wanted to buy it, and that was that.

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  • 4

    Interview: Apr 20th, 2004

    Week 11 Question

    I just started The Great Hunt and I find the religious and political aspects very interesting. I notice the dedication for The Great Hunt says, "They came to my aid when God walked across the water, and the true Eye of the World passed over my house." Has your own religion in any way helped to shape the book?

    Robert Jordan

    Only in the sense that it helped to shape my moral and ethical beliefs. My work certainly is not religious in even the sense that J.R.R. Tolkien's was, much less the work of C.S. Lewis. That inscription, by the way, referred to Hurricane Hugo striking Charleston, where I live. The word hurricane comes from the name of a god of the Caribe Indians, who believed that the storm was that god walking across the water. Anyone who has ridden out a hurricane, and I have ridden out several, can well believe that it is. And if a hurricane isn't the Eye of the World, it's as close as we will come in this world.

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  • 5

    Interview: Apr 20th, 2004

    Week 16 Question

    Can you give us any updates on the next book series you plan to write? (Besides what you have told us before.)

    Robert Jordan

    Sorry, that is very much a work in progress, with nothing at all on paper yet. As such, details change frequently. Also, the more I tell you of what doesn't change, the fewer surprises there will be when the books come out. You'll start reading and say, "I knew that. And I knew that. And I knew THAT! God, Jordan is getting predictable in his old age. I think I'll go read somebody else." And you'll probably be upset about what did change, too, for that matter. I know that when I expect a book or movie to be a certain way and it isn't, quite often the shifting of gears detracts from my enjoyment until it is complete.

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  • 6

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    He really hopes to get the next volume out faster.

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  • 7

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    His plans have not significantly altered from the time of conception. No major scenes have been inserted or left out or substantially altered.

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  • 8

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Phylwriter

    I was wondering more what your "writing life" was like...you know, like an every day kinda thing—could you tell us what a normal, RJ day is like?

    Robert Jordan

    Average day at beginning of book is: have breakfast, answer letters and telephone calls, then write for six to eight hours. Do this five days a week. After a while, this gets to be: drink a quart or two of strong coffee, write for twelve to fourteen hours a day, and do this seven days a week. Eventually the book is finished or I am dead.

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  • 9

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Mnemnose

    The flow of your work is ASTOUNDING—is it as easy to write as it is to read? Are you a conduit/observer to the world you've created or is it a constant struggle?

    Robert Jordan

    Not hardly, Jack!

    I meant: that it's a constant struggle.

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  • 10

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Astrocyte

    A basic question.....How do you approach Point of View in your stories?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I tiptoe up to it, then I grab it by the throat, throw it down, and kick it.

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  • 11

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    CyberLanky

    Do you ever write on other types of books to take a break from your series?

    Robert Jordan

    I have written other kinds of books in the past and I will write other kinds of books in the future, but at the moment the Wheel takes all of my time.

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  • 12

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    J Cool ET

    You seem to have a great grasp of history; what is your background? Do you know how the Wheel will finally turn, yet?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I've been reading history as a hobby since I was five or six, and yes, I do know how it will turn, and how it will end.

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  • 13

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Fable

    I've always admired the incredible patience you show in your writing moving from major event to major event (like moving Rand from the Stone of Tear to the completion of events in the Aiel Waste). Do you have any precise method you use, or does that flow naturally? Do you ever write the events then fill in the spaces, so to speak?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I never "fill in the spaces." Sometimes I have to cut events out, because I've become entirely too patient, getting from one place to another. For the rest, I don't really have a "method" beyond telling the story.

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  • 14

    Interview: Oct 21st, 1994

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Jdieu

    I was just wondering two things: one, what books do YOU read, and what are some of the titles and types of your other written books? I'm really interested in reading more of your writing!

    Robert Jordan

    I read about four hundred or so books a year, half nonfiction, the fiction spread over almost every genre. I have written Westerns, historical fiction, international intrigue; I've ghostwritten some books; but everything except the fantasy is out of print at the moment.

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  • 15

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    Is there any scene in The Wheel of Time that was particularly difficult to write? Why? Are you satisfied with how it came out?

    Robert Jordan

    Too many scenes were difficult to write for me to list them. There’s seldom any warning which they will be; I have begun scenes that I was sure would be difficult only to have them roll out like a carpet, while other scenes, I’ve thought would be a snap only to have to carve them out of stone with my teeth. As to why, now...if I knew why, then they probably wouldn’t be difficult, now would they? The strange thing is that the scenes which were difficult often turn out to be the best. So Harriet says, anyway. At least a dozen times I’ve told her that I needed to work more on a particular scene only to have her tell me that it was some of the most beautiful writing in the book and I mustn’t touch it.

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  • 16

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    What is your favorite scene to this point in the books? Are there any scenes that you like to go back to and reread, because you like them so much?

    Robert Jordan

    My favorite scene, like my favorite character, is always the one I am working on at the moment. Once I am done with a scene—and I'll admit that can take some time—I don't go back to read it unless I want to check on exactly how I worded something. (The exact wording can turn out to be crucial, later on.) I don't think my ego is particularly mild—ahem!—but I certainly don't sit around reading what I have written for the enjoyment of it. I mean, I wrote the bloody thing! I know what's going to happen and why!

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  • 17

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    What in any of the books do you wish you could change?

    Robert Jordan

    I would change a great deal, and at the same time, nothing. I would change nothing because (1) I am satisfied with the story, since it is running exactly the way I want, if a bit longer, and the characters are developing exactly as planned, and (2) once I am finished with a book, I don’t spend any time worrying over what I could have done differently. I’m finished with it and put it out of my head, by and large. There’s a new book that has my attention, now. And I would change a great deal because I’m never satisfied with the writing itself, with the flow of words. I always believe I can do it better. Just have to run through it one more time, and maybe one more after that, and maybe...if it weren’t for deadlines, and Harriet doing her patented “editorial vulture perched on the back of the writer’s chair” imitation (with apologies to Charles Schulz), I suppose I could keep re-writing the same book for five years. Maybe ten.

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  • 18

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    As your editor, how much influence does your wife Harriet have over the final draft of each book? Do you collaborate on the plot elements before each book is written?

    Robert Jordan

    As my editor, Harriet has a great deal of influence over the final draft of each book. She is my editor, after all. She is the one who says things like, “You can do better here” and “You didn’t convince me here.” But no, we don’t collaborate on plot elements. Occasionally I will hash over a scene with her, or check with her to see whether I have had a female character react in a way that she, as a woman, will believe that a woman would react, but she would no sooner put her nose into trying to lay out my story than I would stick mine into trying to set up her poems. We’ve never come to divorce—at least, I haven’t; I can’t say about her—and we both think it best to keep clear of motives for murder.

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  • 19

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    How does your knowledge of physics influence your idea of channeling and the Talents involved in the books, such as Traveling, Skimming, etc? Do you have other hobbies or talents that influence your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    My knowledge of physics influenced channeling to the extent that I have attempted to treat channeling as if it were a form of science and engineering rather than magic. You might say that the Laws of Thermodynamics apply in altered form. I expect that my reading in history has influenced the books more than my knowledge of physics or engineering. I have not tried to copy any actual historical culture or period, but a knowledge of the way things actually were done at various times has helped shape my vision of the world of The Wheel, as has the study of cultures meeting that are strange to one another, and cultures undergoing change, willingly or, as is more often the case, unwillingly. I used to spend summers working on my grandfather’s farm, a very old-fashioned set-up even then, so I have some feel for country life, and I like to hunt and fish, and spent a good part of my growing up in the woods or on the water, so I have a fair feel for the outdoors and the forests, which also helps. And of course, I can use a little of my Vietnam experience. Not for setting out the actual battles, but because I know firsthand the confusion of battle and what it is like to try to maintain some semblance or order while all around you random events are pushing everything toward chaos.

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  • 20

    Interview: Jul, 2002

    Question

    Do other authors offer you advice or suggestions on how to write your books?

    Robert Jordan

    I’m not quite sure what I would say to another writer who offered me suggestions on how to write my books. When you are first starting out, you try to learn from other people, but once you get to a certain point, learning becomes more a matter of honing your own skills, and your confidence has usually advanced by this time to the point where you no longer seek the advice of others. (HEADLINE: Mark McGwire attacks Barry Bonds with baseball bat after Bonds offers advice on swing.)

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  • 21

    Interview: Jan 25th, 2005

    Week 8 Question

    Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the task of finishing up The Wheel of Time while mentally planning for your next series? Have any of your WoT ideas been put on hold until the next series? (For example, a certain character.)

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't ever feel overwhelmed by The Wheel of Time. I do sometimes feel that I set out on a 15K run and found that I had somehow been entered in the marathon, but I'm enjoying the run and hoping to make a good time over the distance. I believe I've been doing all right so far. (For those who think I've been slow, I've had well over six thousand pages in The Wheel of Time published over a thirteen year span, which in smaller books of a more usual size would come out at 15 to 18 novels, hardly a slow pace for thirteen years.) And no, none of the ideas for the The Wheel of Time have been put aside for the next series of books. That one has been forming in my head for...Lord, it must be ten years, now. Maybe longer. I've lost count. All of the characters and situations in that series will be distinct to that series and that very different world. When I think of something for those books, I tuck it away in my notes and compartmentalize like the very devil.

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  • 22

    Interview: Jan 25th, 2005

    Week 17 Question

    What parts of the series were difficult for you to write both emotionally and mentally? Have you ever turned something in for press and later realized you hated how it read?

    Robert Jordan

    None of it has been hard mentally, though getting inside the skins of the Forsaken and folks like Padan Fain required some effort. You have to really like your character unless that character is meant to be self-hating for some reason, which most people are not. Liking Padan Fain just isn't easy.

    I've often read things later and thought I could have done better, but I always think I could do better if only I had another few months to do rewrites. Just a few more months, that's all. Deadline? Pub date? Never heard of them, sport. I've never looked at anything I wrote and hated it. Even the first things I wrote aren't too bad, really. I certainly know that I could do them better, now—I'd hope so, after all these years—but they aren't bad.

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  • 23

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    A sort of slenderized Burl Ives, with the same intelligent, probing eyes, ebullient manner, and faintly mischievous grin, Jordan, now in his 40s, is exploring the realm of fantasy after successful sojourns along a number of literary paths.

    Judging by the review and the sales—his pen seems as formidable as a highwayman's blade, or a sorcerer's talisman.

    Jordan, who also writes under the pseudonyms "Reagan O'Neal" and "Jackson O'Reilly," recently completed the second in a planned six-book fantasy series for Tor Books collectively entitled "The Wheel of Time." The first installment, The Eye of the World, was four years in the writing. It was released in February 1990 to broad acclaim, ascending the bestseller list. Volume two, The Great Hunt, was published this fall, with the third book tentatively scheduled for December 1991.

    Robert Jordan

    "Actually, I prefer not to use the term 'series' because it sounds so open-ended, like the writer will continue to produce books in the same creative surroundings indefinitely," says Jordan, a life-long resident of Charleston, South Carolina. "Each book is designed to stand alone. The Great Hunt is a sequel, yes, but I've put a good deal of effort into it to ensure that whoever picks it up first will not feel left out or cheated."

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  • 24

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Throughout the years, genre fiction always has suffered from a sort of stepchild reputation, in part because so much formulaic, derivative, clumsy work has been produced in the various categories. Then again, as Jordan points out, much the same can be said of any literary form. Regardless of the fictional landscape he explores—fantasy, Westerns, historical—he rejects the creative straitjacket whose constraints allow no deviation from a basic genre formula.

    Robert Jordan

    "Genre survives; Moby Dick is an adventure story, for heaven's sake. William Shakespeare wrote comedies. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote mysteries. What dooms a book is believing you have to stay within the guidelines. And with each book you write, in whatever genre, you must strive to make it better than the preceding one. You hope one day to write The Canterbury Tales, something that will last 1,000 years."

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  • 25

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Crafting his stories in a highly visual style, Jordan joins a celebrated list of contemporary fantasists and science-fantasy authors composed of such names as Joan Vinge, Fred Saberhagen, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne Rice, Roger Zelazny and Donaldson.

    But Jordan sees fantasy splitting into altogether too many lines to assay broad trends.

    Robert Jordan

    "You have, basically, magic realism, high fantasy and sword and sorcery, and between these reside at least a half-dozen other sub-genres. So, it's hard to see specific overall directions in the field."

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  • 26

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Yet fantasy literature, with its exemplar in Tolkien, is an enduring form chiefly because it touches a deep chord in the human psyche: a desire for simpler times, with a clear distinction between good and evil. More, says Jordan, fantasy offers its own well-ordered but thematically unlimited universe.

    Robert Jordan

    "In hard, technological science fiction, we've gotten away from a view of the eternal conflict between good and evil. Indeed, we see everything drifting through a shade of relativistic grey. While I agree that there are many ambiguous, grey issues, there is also good and evil. And the only areas of fiction in which the distinction is clearly delineated are fantasy and horror.

    "There used to be this perception that science fiction had to be hard and technical and that people were mere window dressing to help communicate the science. Of course, this was rarely true of the best SF, which stood out for the very reason that it didn't follow the strict guidelines on what that sort of fiction should be. By contrast, people are central to fantasy. And although there is no magic in my books, no incantations, the 'wizards' still tap into the power that drives the universe."

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  • 27

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Just because Jordan happens to write fantasy, it doesn't follow that he sees life in heroic or romantic terms. Quite the contrary, at least since he began conjuring fantastic visions.

    Robert Jordan

    "Before I began writing fantasy, I did have something of a romantic sense of the world. I was flamboyant and sort of an oddball as a kid. I still am in some ways. I made it through Machiavelli's The Prince by age twelve, which may have begun to cure me of romantic illusions."

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  • 28

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    He doesn't see the world he elaborates as unreal. Far from it.

    Robert Jordan

    "It exists in our past and our future. These were our legends, but because time is a wheel—according to Hindu legend—we are the seeds of their myths. Because it is a real world in my books, they have certain degrees of technology. The time in which the characters live is our future and our past. Part of what I'm exploring here is what the nature and source of our myths might be."

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  • 29

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Jordan fantasy adventures in many respects are cinematic in tone, a legacy perhaps of his great fondness for genre films, good and bad. he says he tries to write in a way that impels readers to see the story, as well as hear, and smell and feel it.

    Robert Jordan

    "I approach writing stories as if they were meant to be read aloud. Many books aren't done this way and still are great books, but I try for the effect of a classic story teller. Like most other writers of fantasy, I started out not only reading fantasy but going to fantasy and science fiction movies. In more recent years, I've probably see Excalibur two dozen times. Going semi-out-of-genre, Apocalypse Now certainly had an impact on me. It had almost all the detail wrong, but its fantastic elements nonetheless capture the feel of the place, the experience, the sense of the surreal, of abandonment, of being sold out."

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  • 30

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Jordan knows something of Southeast Asia; he served two tours of duty in Vietnam from 1968-70, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star as a helicopter crewman. He still hopes to one day write a book based on his experiences.

    Robert Jordan

    "But the difficulty of approaching a book on Vietnam may prevent me from doing it. There are an awful lot of people who haven't come to grips with the war, what it did to them, how it changed them."

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  • 31

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Whether his war experiences have influenced his fantasy writing, or more, been translated directly into fiction, is difficult for Jordan to say.

    Robert Jordan

    "I do think the military characters in my fantasy novels are more realistic in terms of how soldiers really are, how they feel about combat, about being soldiers, about civilians. Beyond that, my time in Vietnam certainly has affected a certain moral vision. Not just based on what happened to me, but on the abandonment of a people who had put everything on the line for us. It started me off on a quest for morality, both in religious and philosophical reading, and in my writing. Again one of the central themes in 'The Wheel of Time' is the struggle between the forces of good and evil. How far can one go in fighting evil before becoming like evil itself? Or do you maintain your purity at the cost of evil's victory? I'm fond of saying that if the answer is too easy, you've probably asked the wrong question."

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  • 32

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Following military service, Jordan enrolled at The Citadel, earning a degree in physics in 1974. For a time, he toiled as a nuclear engineer for the Navy. He became a writer largely out of boredom with the works of authors he read during an extended hospital stay, recuperating from a severe knee injury.

    His first book, Warriors of the Altaii, was fantasy. So was his dream of a publisher. A book contract signed by Jordan was rescinded, reputedly due to "excessive demands." Despite the setback, Jordan determined he would no longer work for anyone else, that he would henceforth write full time.

    In a reversal of the path taken earlier by John Jakes, Jordan went from "generational sagas" to the fantastic. However, his first major commercial success came in 1980 with the historical novel The Fallon Blood. Eleven years later, Jordan has published works representative of many fields, including dance and theater criticism.

    Robert Jordan

    "I enjoy whatever I'm writing at the moment. Right now what I want to write is fantasy. But I would also like to do plays, horror, mysteries, poetry and maybe some hard science fiction. Fantasy is challenging enough. Day to day, I try to keep things fresh and vital so there's no danger of self-imitation or self-parody. At the same time, it concerns me occasionally that I might court burnout from staying too long in one world."

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  • 33

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    There was some question of that during the period Jordan wrote Conan novels. When Tor Books got underway in 1981, Jordan was selected to resume the series originated by Robert E. Howard and continued by L. Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter, Poul Anderson and others.

    Robert Jordan

    "I turned down the offer to do a Conan book initially. I was dubious about the prospect of writing in someone else's universe. But later, I agreed to do it and was surprised to find it a kick to return the character to his youth—ideal for a series aimed at adolescent readers. Writing the Conan novels necessitated following a strict framework, and, as I've said, I don't especially like that sort of externally imposed discipline. So, I had to puzzle out how I could be fresh and original within a box already constructed by others' hands."

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  • 34

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Jordan continues to serve as a consulting editor with Tor, having edited Conan novels by Roland Green, Leonard Carpenter and Steve Perry, as well as works by other authors.

    Robert Jordan

    "Frankly," he admits, "I think I'm a much better writer since becoming an editor."

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  • 35

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    In the realm of fantasy writing, Jordan has been less influenced than simply entertained by such works as Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series and the horror writing of Stephen King.

    He never reads fantasy when he is in the midst of writing it.

    Robert Jordan

    "I read fantasies in between books. When writing, I make it a point to read other genres, plus philosophy, history, biography, mythology."

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  • 36

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    And Jordan is by any measure a voracious reader. There is something evocative of the drawing room about the man, what with his passion for pipe collecting, military history and the sedate, contemplative pursuit of chess, billiards and poker. Yet he is likewise an avid outdoorsman, having a particular relish for hunting, fishing, and sailing.

    His approach to the process of writing is no less enthusiastic or studious.

    Robert Jordan

    "One description of the writing process I find apropos is that you start with a block of stone. Only you don't see the stone; you see a horse within the stone. As a sculptor, you would carve it out. A writer has to claw at it with his fingernails. It crumbles and fights all the way. You work and work on a leg and just can't get it right. Sometimes, you chew the leg off. Sometimes, you chew your own leg off. Sometimes, you sweat on the leg, hoping the salt will smooth it into the desired shape and contour. Then, reviewers come along and say they like or dislike the horse. Or critics say a horse is not what you intended at all.

    "Alternatively, writing fiction is telling imaginative lies. You put them on paper and somebody pays you for it. Both these ideas are equally true. And if you encompass both, you can be a writer. But you also want people to like it and you hope that what you've written is more than just tripe with a sauce on it."

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  • 37

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Jordan's mechanics are fundamental enough. He begins by supplying a foundation, layer by layer, erecting a general outline that is the story's scaffolding. Between the layers are inserted the roughs of characters and events that lend motive force to the tale.

    His outline, which can run from 20 to 40 pages, rarely is adhered to in minute detail. It's still a formative sketch—lines of charcoal on a white surface.

    Robert Jordan

    "My goal is to write a minimum of six hours a day. If I haven't begun writing by 11 a.m., I feel incredibly lazy. You see, writing is the mainline of my life, which may or may not be the best thing. I go back and forth on how I feel about this. I can get manic-depressive about my work. When that happens, I think I'm a lousy judge of my writing."

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  • 38

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    For Jordan, the process is by turns fluid and exacting.

    Robert Jordan

    "It just comes. Sometimes, it comes with great difficulty. But there's never a point when I have to ask myself, 'What do I do next?' or 'What do I say next?' This isn't to say I don't go back and make changes in the story's logic structure."

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  • 39

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    Jordan never intended that "The Wheel of Time" be a series. It started out as one book, with a concrete beginning and end.

    Robert Jordan

    "But it's hard to find space for an 18-inch thick book on your shelf. I took the outline to the publisher, saying what I had here was more like four or five or six books. What can I tell you? I signed a six-book contract."

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  • 40

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    As to his various pen names, their use chiefly reflects Jordan's desire for privacy for himself and his wife, publisher and editor Harriett P. McDougal, with whom Jordan shares a pre-Revolutionary War home.

    Robert Jordan

    "There's also a commercial consideration having to do with what publishers will accept. If I'd write a horror novel under the name Robert Jordan, publishers will accept. But if I went with a Robert Jordan mystery—that far out of genre—there would probably be a big fight over it, the kind of distraction I would just as soon avoid. Not that I haven't had my share of disagreements with editors and publishers.

    "Beyond all that, I also enjoy the multiple identities."

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  • 41

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    In his office in Charleston's storied Confederate Home, Jordan sits, pondering a measure of the eternal grail, if you will, though not a holy one.

    Robert Jordan

    "If you're lucky, people will be reading your books in 20 years after you're dead. If you're very lucky, they'll be reading them 50 years later, 100 years later if you're extraordinarily fortunate.

    "The writer doesn't achieve immortality. Books do. And if people are reading and enjoying my books centuries from now, I couldn't be happier."

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  • 42

    Interview: Oct, 1992

    Brian McKee

    A local (huge!) bookstore here in Dayton called Books & Co. has The Shadow Rising. I bought it last night, and found out the Robert Jordan was there for a book signing! I wish I had known ahead of time so I could have brought all four in the Wheel of Time series.

    Robert Jordan

    Several people had ALL of his books, including his Conan books and several written under pseudonyms—he mentioned writing westerns and historical (e.g. civil war) novels under the names Reagan [O'Neal] and [Jackson] O'Reilly.

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  • 43

    Interview: Sep 6th, 1993

    Robert Jordan

    Dear Carol,

    Thank you very much for the copy of The Chronicles. I was not aware that I had fans who followed my work so closely. It is a real pleasure to discover. I apologize for the delay in writing, but in addition to writing (which takes no small amount of time), I have been on a round-the-world promotional trip and a close family member had to have open heart surgery, both of which occupied me fully. I do not have access to Prodigy, but please keep me on your mailing list through Tor.

    By the way, the capture of Yurian Stonebow did not "bring and end to the Trolloc Wars" (Guide to WoT). Yurian Stonebow "rose from the ashes of the Trolloc Wars." That is, he came along after the wars ended.

    Footnote

    This 'Guide to WoT' was something in the fan club newsletter; the Big White Book was published a few years later. The first quote is probably from this 'guide', and the second is from The Great Hunt.

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  • 44

    Interview: Nov, 1993

    Trinity College Q&A (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    He does not intend to speed up as the end of the series approaches: the books are planned to come out at the same rate until the end.

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  • 45

    Interview: Nov, 1993

    Trinity College Q&A (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    His first Conan novel he wrote because there was money offered. Having discovered that it was fun to write Conan, he wrote five more including the novelization of the second movie, and then spent a year convincing people that he was not going to write any more Conan...he was quite adamant on this point.

    His first novel was accepted and then rejected, sold and then rights reverted to him...he says he will never publish it as it is not very good, but keeps it as it seems to be lucky for him.

    He regards being taught to read at an early age and reading anything and everything he could get his hands on as being very important to his decision to write, and to what he writes and how he writes it...he writes Fantasy because it allows more straightforward discussion of good and evil than fiction set in the modern world.

    (I got the impression that learning to read at age three is considered precocious in the USA...just another example of how far you colonials have fallen. :-) )

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  • 46

    Interview: Dec, 1993

    Question

    Do you currently think it will be seven or eight books total, also will the books continue to remain as 'chunky' as The Fires of Heaven and The Shadow Rising?

    Robert Jordan

    At present I am indeed hoping to complete the cycle in either seven or eight books. I am 90% confident that I can do it in seven, 95% confident that I can by eight. The thing is, as a famous manager of an American baseball team once said: "It ain't over till it's over." I know the last scene of the last book and the resolutions of all the major story lines. I have known these things since the very beginning. It is just a matter of getting there. And I am afraid the rest of the books very likely will be as large as Shadow and Fires. Sorry. I've been thinking about asking the publisher to include a shoulder strap. At least I haven't topped a thousand pages in hardcover yet.

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  • 47

    Interview: Dec, 1993

    Question

    I have found and read your Conan books, however are there any other books that you have had published and are there any other books unrelated to The Wheel of Time that you are working on?

    Robert Jordan

    I have been a writer for seventeen years now, and have had a number of other books published (Westerns, international intrigue, historical fiction), as well as essays, dance review and theater criticism, but no other fantasy save the Conan novels. I've written only one piece of short fiction in my life, aside from school assignments, and it was never published. I will probably write in those other genres again from time to time; I enjoy them. I am working on something unconnected with The Wheel of Time, though I have not yet begun writing it. (Books percolate about in my head for a long time before anything goes onto paper.) It will be the next thing after The Wheel is complete. It will be fantasy, in a different universe than The Wheel.

    My editor says it will be people's chance to see a society like the Seanchan Empire, but that is simply because most of the action will take place in a culture much like Seanchan. The main male character, who is shipwrecked there, comes from a place that might he considered a cross between Elizabethan England and the Italian city-states of the Renaissance with touches of the seventeenth century. I intend him to be a man in his thirties, a man of some experience and worldliness in his own culture (though this does him only occasional good where he finds himself), in contrast to Rand's innocence and naivete. The major female character is a noblewoman of the land where he is shipwrecked; by the law, whatever is cast up on the shores of her estates belongs to her: the ship, its cargo—its crew. Of course, a good many details will surely change between now and the commencement of writing (they always do), but that is the general form. No working title yet beyond Shipwreck. I expect to do the story in two or possibly three books.

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  • 48

    Interview: Mar 1st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Does evil need to be effective to be evil? And how do you define effectiveness? Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge managed to murder about 25-30% of Cambodia's population, destroy the country's agricultural and industrial base, fairly well wipe out the educated class inside the country (defined as anyone with an education beyond the ability to read; a good many of those went too, of course), and in general became so rabid that only China was willing to maintain any sort of contact with them, and that at arm's length. Their rabidity was the prime reason that they ended up losing the country. (though they are still around and still causing trouble.) In other words, they were extremely ineffective in attaining their goal, which was to seize Cambodia, remake it in the way Pol Pot wished (and still wishes), and export their brand of revolution abroad. Looking at the death toll, the cities emptied out (hospital patients were told they had one hour to leave or die; post-op patients, those still in the operating room, everybody), the murders of entire families down to infants because one member of the family was suspected of "counter-revolutionary" crimes, the mass executions (one method was for hundreds of people to be bound hand and foot, then bulldozed into graves alive; the bulldozers drove back and forth over these mass graves until attempts to dig out stopped)—given all of that, can you say that Khmer Rough's ineffectiveness made them less evil? Irrationality is more fearful than rationality (if we can use that term in this regard) because if you have brown hair and know that the serial killer out there is only killing blondes, you are safe, but if he is one of those following no easily discernible pattern, if every murder seems truly random, then it could be you who will be next. But "rationality" can have its terrors. What if that killer is only after brunettes named Carolyn? Stalin had the very rational goal (according to Communist dogma) of forcibly collectivizing all farmland in the Soviet Union. He was effective—all the land was collectivized—and to do it he murdered some thirty million small farmers who did not want to go along.

    But are the Forsaken ineffective or irrational? Are they any more divided than any other group plotting to take over a country, a world, IBM? True, they plot to secure power for themselves. But I give you Stalin v. Trotsky and the entire history of the Soviet Union. I give you Thomas Jefferson v. Alexander Hamilton v. John Adams, and we will ignore such things as Jefferson's hounding of Aaron Burr (he tore up the Constitution to do it; double jeopardy, habeas corpus, the whole nine yards), or Horatio Gates' attempted military coup against Washington, with the support of a fair amount of the Continental Congress. We can also ignore Secretary of War Stanton's attempts to undermine Lincoln throughout the Civil War, the New England states' attempt to make a separate peace with England during the Revolution and their continued trading with the enemy (the British again) during the War of 1812, and... The list could go on forever, frankly, and take in every country. Human nature is to seize personal advantage, and when the situation is the one the Forsaken face (namely that one of them will be given the rule of the entire earth while the others are forever subordinate), they are going to maneuver and backstab like crazy. You yourself say "If ever there was the possibility that some alien force was going to invade this planet, half the countries would refuse to admit the problem, the other half would be fighting each other to figure out who will lead the countries into battle, etc." Even events like Rahvin or Sammael or Be'lal seizing a nation have a basis. What better way to hand over large chunks of land and people to the Dark One than to be ruler of those lands and people? The thing is that they are human. But aside from that, are you sure that you know what they are up to? All of them? Are you sure you know what the Dark One's own plans are? Now let's see about Rand and his dangers and his allies. Have you been skimming, my dear? What makes you think the Tairens, Cairhienin and Andorans are solidly behind him? They're plotting and scheming as hard as the Forsaken. Rand is the Dragon Reborn, but this is my country, and we don't need anybody, and so on. And then there are those who don't think he is the Dragon Reborn at all, just a puppet of Tar Valon. Most of the Aiel may be behind him, but the Shaido are still around, and the bleakness is still taking its toll, since not all Aiel can face up to what Rand has told them about themselves. What makes you think the Seanchan will fall in behind Rand? Have you seen any Seanchan volunteers showing up? Carolyn, half of these people are denying there is a problem, and half are trying to be big honcho themselves. Read again, Carolyn. The world Rand lives in is getting more frenzied and turbulent. Damned few are saying, "Lead, because you know best." A good many who are following are saying "Lead, because I'd rather follow you than have you call down lightning and burn me to a crisp!"

    As for lack of challenge, I refer you again to the question about whether you really think you know what all the Forsaken are planning. Or what Padan Fain is up to. There is a flaw inherent in fiction, one that is overcome by suspension of disbelief. We do always know, somewhere in the back of our heads, that the hero is going to make it through as far as he needs to. After all, if Frodo buys the farm, the story is over, kids. The excitement comes in trying to figure out how he can possibly wiggle out, how he can possibly triumph.

    In Rand's case, let's see what he still has stacked against him. The Cairhienin and Tairens are for the most part reluctant allies, and in many cases not even that. At the end of Fires, he has Caemlyn, but I don't see any Andoran nobles crowding around to hail him. Illian still belongs to Sammael. Pedron Niall is working to convince people Rand is a false Dragon, and the Prophet is alienating ten people for every one he convinces. Tarabon and Arad Doman are unholy messes; even if Rand manages to get in touch with all of the Dragonsworn—who are not organized beyond individual bands—he has two humongous civil wars to deal with. True, he can use the Aiel to suppress those, but he has to avoid men killing men too much; there are Trollocs waiting to spill out of the Blight eventually. We must always remember the Trollocs, Myrddraal etc; the last time they came out in force, it took over 300 years to beat them back, and the Last Battle doesn't give Rand anywhere near that. Altara and Murandy are so divided in any case that simply getting the king or queen on his side isn't going to work; remember that most people in those two countries give loyalty to a city or a local lord and only toss in their country as an afterthought. Davram Bashere thinks Tenobia will bring Saldaea to Rand, and that is possible since the Borderlands would be one place where everyone is aware of the Last Battle and the Prophecies, but even Bashere isn't willing to make any promises, not even for Saldaea much less the other Borderlands, and I haven't seen any Borderland rulers showing up to hand Rand the keys to the kingdom. Padan Fain is out there, able to feel Rand, and hating him because of what was done to him, Fain, to make him able to find Rand. The surviving Forsaken are out there and except for Sammael, nobody knows what they are up to or where they can be found. For that matter, who knows everything that Sammael is up to? Elaida, in the White Tower, thinks Rand has to be tightly controlled. The Salidar Aes Sedai are not simply ready to fall in and kiss his boots, either. Aes Sedai have been manipulating the world for more than three thousand years, guiding it, making sure it remembers the Dark One and Tarmon Gai'don as real threats, doing their best, as they see it, to prepare the world for the Dark One breaking free. Are they likely to simply step aside and hand over control to a farmboy, even if he is the Dragon Reborn? Even after Moiraine decided he had to be given his head, Siuan was reluctant, and Siuan was in Moiraine's little conspiracy from the beginning. And the Seanchan...The last we saw of their forces, they were commanded by a Darkfriend. As for the Sea Folk, do you know what their prophecy says about the Coramoor? Do you think working with them it will be any simpler than dealing with the Aiel, say?

    Now, what and who does Rand have solidly in his camp? Perrin knows what is needed, but he's hardly happy about it. What he really wants is to settle down with Faile and be a blacksmith; everything else is a reluctant duty. Mat blew the Horn of Valere, but it's hidden in the Tower, and frankly, if he could figure some way to go away and spend the rest of his life carousing and chasing women, he would. He'll do what he has to do, but Light he doesn't want to. The Aiel are for Rand (less the Shaido, still a formidable force), but the Dragon Reborn and the Last Battle are no part of the Prophecy of Rhuidean. That is all wetlander stuff. Besides which, they are still suffering losses from bleakness, people throwing down their spears and leaving, people defecting to the Shaido or drifting back to the Waste because what Rand told them of their origins can't possibly be true and if it isn't then he can't be the Car'a'carn. Rand has declared an amnesty for men who can channel and is trying to gather them in; they, at least, should give their loyalty to him. But how many can he find? How much can he teach them in the time he has? How many will go mad before the Last Battle? There is still the taint on saidin, remember. For that matter, can Rand hang onto his own sanity? What effect will having a madman inside his head have? Can he stop Lews Therin from taking him over?

    I know that was supposed to be a listing of what Rand has in his favor, but the fact is that he is walking the razor's edge, barely hanging onto his sanity and growing more paranoid all the time, barely hanging onto putative allies, most of whom would just as soon see him go away in the hope that then everything would be the way it was before he showed up, confronted by enemies on every side. In short he has challenges enough for ten men. I've had people write to say they can't see how Rand is going to untangle all of this and get humanity ready to face the Last Battle. What I say is, what you believe to be true is not always true. What you think is going to happen is not always going to happen. That has been demonstrated time and again in The Wheel of Time. You could call those two statements one of the themes of the books.

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  • 49

    Interview: Mar 1st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Hey, don't publish the picture Gerard gave you. Our house has no wrought-iron gates. Also, no renovation has been done here since the fix-up after Hurricane Hugo several years ago. I kid you not. Poor Gerard got the wrong house. I'm glad you don't intend to publish any address, whether or not it is mine. There are fans who write letters, and then there are fans who show up at the front door unannounced. I hate to be rude to people, but with the time I spend writing, I barely have time for a social life with my friends, and frankly, someone who has managed to track you down is going to think you have cheated them if you scribble your name in their book and say, "Now go away. I'm busy." Believe me.

    Well, again, thanks for the letter, Carolyn. Do keep me abreast of what's happening with The Chronicles. I really would like to see copies, if it is possible for you to send them to me care of Tor Books.

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  • 50

    Interview: 1994

    Jennifer Cross

    (small report)

    Robert Jordan

    He said he writes as the ideas come and he has no clue as to how long the series will be! So that throws out 8, 10, or 16 books out the window. He also gave heights for the characters. As for Rand being unusually tall, how about 6'6". Aviendha is 5'10". You can deduce from there.

    Footnote

    October 19, 1994

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  • 51

    Interview: Oct, 1992

    John Brannick

    What will your next project be?

    Robert Jordan

    Not sure yet, but not a fantasy—he doesn't want to be stereotyped by critics or fans. He has done research for a nonfiction history of the South's role in the American Revolutionary War.

    Footnote

    This is the only time RJ is on record saying that his next project wouldn't be fantasy. By the next year, he started talking about Infinity of Heaven.

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  • 52

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Daniel Rouk

    No Jordan quotes are exact... I didn't write anything down or have a tape of it. (sorry)

    Robert Jordan

    Robert Jordan began writing after a pretty severe (the description grossed Erica out) knee injury kept him idle. He was in the government service at the time, and after using the time to write his first book, his boss thought he was faking the injury simply to write. Jordan was upset because his boss's boss believed that, and put in a resignation with two weeks notice. Upset that he was leaving, his boss asked him to stay, mentioning that he was needed on current projects. Jordan had cleaned up his desk and finished those however. The boss mentioned that he was needed on future projects. Jordan mentioned that he had submitted his resignation. The boss mentioned that if he quit Jordan would never be able to work in the government again. Jordan asked if he could have that in writing.

    He says his wife disbelieves this ever happened, but Jordan swears it's true!

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  • 53

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Daniel Rouk

    Jordan answered any spoilers about the story pretty much as follows. First question where this occurred is below:

    What about Jain Farstrider? Will we see him again?

    Robert Jordan

    "If, by the end of the last page of the last book you haven't read any more about him, then I guess there was nothing more to say."

    He mentioned that he isn't going to offer any windows into the story other than the text. If it's not readily apparent, then he isn't going to illuminate it further. Thus no mind-shattering revelations about the plot here!

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  • 54

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Erica Sadun

    Erica asked the title of the next book.

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan doesn't know yet. He is still writing it.

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  • 55

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Daniel Rouk

    I asked how far along he is [with A Crown of Swords].

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan said he didn't really know, as he is constantly writing and cutting parts. He writes from the beginning of the story to the end, and then cuts and edits large chunks, pulling together threads. He doesn't even think about a working title, but lets the story determine it.

    He says there will be at least three more books, maybe four.

    Jordan knows the very last part of the final book, but doesn't know how long it will be till he'll put it in.

    One humorous story mentions the quote saying he will continue writing until the day the nails are put into his coffin. One elderly lady apparently told him that she was a lot closer to that than he was so he had better hurry up.

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  • 56

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    On why the combat scenes are not more involved: Because in combat things never really are clear. Also they are not really important.

    Well, that's all I can really think of at the moment... I'm sure Erica will have some to say too, or more details on the above. I'll add more after tomorrow's signing at Oxford Books!

    May the Wheel keep turning!

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  • 57

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan (18 October 1994)

    Jordan was a nuclear engineer for the Army, doing work on submarines. (Army working on Naval craft?) From there he entered government service of some sort, and when he hurt his knee started writing. (See previous post on details.)

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  • 58

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan (18 October 1994)

    Jordan uses a 486 running at 66 MHz with lots of bells and whistles to write.

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  • 59

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan (18 October 1994)

    Jordan doesn't like his first book, but is scared to throw it away because he thinks his luck might be tied to it. He detailed how he sent it to a publisher and it was accepted. When he asked for a few minor changes be made to his contract, they sent a letter dropping him. Since he now knew he could write, he set about doing so.

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  • 60

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    World Design: about 10 years before writing commenced. Stopped being a nuclear engineer to write.

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  • 61

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    How many books?—"I don't know. Two, maybe three, maybe four. I know the last scene. But after I write the last scene that is all there is for these characters." (No Eddings sequels) "Maybe a series in another Age."

    What other books?—"More books planned than I have years to write them."

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  • 62

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Question

    Isn't Lord of Chaos half of a book?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. He wanted to experiment. There's something else which is experimental, but he won't say what.

    Footnote

    I asked Erica about this concept that Lord of Chaos is 'half a book', since it was mentioned a lot in reports of the period. I told her I thought it was odd, since now (2011) Lord of Chaos is by and far one of the fan favorites. It's interesting, because the older fans generally tend to favor books 1-3, and Erica herself was most impressed by The Dragon Reborn. One has to wonder if RJ didn't slow down to show them what 'half a book' was really like (aside from being worn out after completing his six-book contract with book-a-year deadlines).

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  • 63

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Degan Outridge

    Thanks for many hours of enjoyment. There were so many new stories/threads in Lord of Chaos did you always intend to go in these directions or did it take on a life of its own?

    Robert Jordan

    For the major threads, I'm going exactly where I intended to go—and for most of the minor threads, I'm going fairly much where I intended to go. With some minor threads, it seemed, as I went along, that there was a better way than I had first thought.

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  • 64

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ben & Chris

    This obviously requires huge amounts of plotting and info outlining. Did you have any pertinent WOT info lost during Hurricane Hugo? (And did your house suffer at all?)

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, my house suffered during Hurricane Hugo, and no, I didn't have any significant information loss.

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  • 65

    Interview: Oct 13th, 2005

    Question

    Someone else mentioned how they liked the way he writes political figures as self-interested people who truly believe they are doing whatever is right for the common good.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ agreed with this and said that that's what he believes the vast majority of politicians are like. There are of course some who are corrupt. He then told a story of a frightening meeting with a man (I forget the name) who was ex-KGB and connected to powerful Russian politicians and liked his books, who then asked RJ how he knows what he knows. A sweating RJ then told the man they first had to agree on what it is that he knows.

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  • 66

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Richard Sowash

    How do you keep up with all of the plotlines, prophecies, etc.?

    Robert Jordan

    With difficulty.

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  • 67

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Richard Sowash

    Do you use story boards, flow charts, etc. or just the FAQs?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't use story boards, etc. I just do outlines in the sense of synopses of what I intend to write.

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  • 68

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Sharon Perdue

    Why weren't Compulsion and Illusion mentioned in the previous books before Lord of Chaos and is there any specific character in the series that you have taken a liking to?

    Robert Jordan

    Compulsion and Illusion: They weren't mentioned primarily because it wasn't necessary. Actually Compulsion has been mentioned a number of times, and I think Illusion has been mentioned in passing at least once or twice. It just wasn't necessary to deal with them in depth. The answer to the rest of the question: All of them. (Sorry.) I like all of them. Whoever I'm writing—that's the one I like.

    Footnote

    Moiraine actually used Illusion a couple of times in The Eye of the World; it just wasn't named as such.

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  • 69

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Andrew S

    Did you think you were going to write only the first book without sequels? If your wife is all the female characters are you all the male ones?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I knew from the start that I was writing something that would be multiple books. I just never knew how many, exactly. The last question: Probably, God help me. Never thought of it that way, though.

    Footnote

    In the Starlog interview, RJ seems to have indicated that it was originally intended to be one book.

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  • 70

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Gordon B

    Mr. Jordan. Just curious, do you know how many words you've typed into this series (some authors have it in the epilogue)?

    Robert Jordan

    My answer is not closer than plus-or-minus 100,000 words or so. Give or take a million.

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  • 71

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1994

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Pug

    Firstly, I'd like to thank you for my mother's autographed The Fires of Heaven, 10/150 and also, what inspires your deft writing?

    Robert Jordan

    Everything!

    PUG

    Specifically?

    Robert Jordan

    Everything specifically!

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  • 72

    Interview: Oct 20th, 1994

    Delemin

    My dear fellow rasfwrjians, as (to the best of my knowledge) the only one of us to attend the signing at Science Fiction, Mysteries, and More on Thursday, I feel obliged to report what Jordan said there, and my impressions.

    Robert Jordan was stockier, shorter, and better cushioned than I expected. He wore a wide brimmed hat and walked with a cane with a ram's horn like handle. Generally he was open and friendly. When he came in late he explained that it was because Princess Di was in New York to meet Bill Clinton to discuss Vince Foster's suicide. However he made repeated references to being worn out and overworked by Lord of Chaos.

    Robert Jordan

    "If I work that hard on this one I'll die," he commented several times. Apparently he worked 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week. In August (he usually finishes in May) the folks at Tor sequestered him in a hotel in New York City, where he finished the book in two weeks. He said he would try to get the book out on time but he figured we would rather have him finish a book late than finish his life early.

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  • 73

    Interview: Oct 20th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    He writes on a PC but has some files on an Apple III.

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  • 74

    Interview: Oct 20th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    He writes Elizabethan sonnets to his wife but will not publish them. Someone in the audience supported him in this quoting Heinlein that "a poet who reads his work in public may have other nasty habits." Jordan said he never reads any of his work.

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  • 75

    Interview: Oct 20th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    He encouraged young writers to write and send out things continuously not to be discouraged by rejections, and to change something only when three editors suggest it.

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  • 76

    Interview: Oct 22nd, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    At one point, RJ raised his voice to scold his wife, "No! No hints! They can figure it out!" She was grinning, apparently not chagrined at all. But she did stop saying any more at that point. This leads me to believe that Mr. Jordan enjoys immensely weaving the puzzle, as much as writing the book.

    He repeatedly reassured us that we have all the clues we need to figure out who killed Asmodean.

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  • 77

    Interview: Oct 25th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Speaking of the Net, Jordan did say (as noted before) that he'd read the FAQ, and was both impressed and amused by it. We got a lot of stuff right, and a lot of stuff wrong. We also have based a lot of discussion on "facts" we deduced that were actually wrong.

    He DID say that he had done some things in response to net.speculations. First, if we seemed to be getting too close to something he had intended to stay hidden for a while longer, he would tone it done in later books. And if we seemed to be going off on an incredible tangent (the "How could they think THAT?" sort of thing) he would correct it. In both cases, however, he only did this if it could be fitted unobtrusively into the book.

    Naturally, he refused to provide specifics. I asked if the linking discussion on the Net had led to the glossary entry in Lord of Chaos (which discussed linking in some depth). He said no, the info about linking has been in his notes all along, but he had to cut it out of previous glossaries in order to save space.

    Tony Zbaraschuk

    [I was discussing Moghedien's nature at this point, as an example of how wrong some of our deductions were [specifically mine about Moghedien's exact identity and the nature of her companions—see the FAQ, and compare with the Salidar sections in Lord of Chaos] and said that it was almost impossible to get a straight answer (or any info) out of Moghedien, and Harriet Jordan said that that was a lot like her husband; it was very hard to get info out of him.]

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  • 78

    Interview: Oct 25th, 1994

    Question

    How many more WoT books will there be?

    Robert Jordan

    Several. Some. A few. I'm not even speculating now on how many books I hope it will take, because every time I do mention a number I hope I can finish it in, it turns out to take longer. It will be at least eight, because I've signed the contracts for books seven and eight.

    Tony Zbaraschuk

    [I got the strong impression that Jordan is NOT padding anything; the WoT just keeps growing by leaps and bounds.]

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  • 79

    Interview: Oct 25th, 1994

    Question

    What about your characters? Are there any of them you don't like?

    Robert Jordan

    You have to like a character to get inside of them, to make them real to the reader. Ever read a book where several characters felt right, and one of them was just wrong, where your reaction is "That can't be a real person?" If so, odds are that the writer didn't like that character. I get into each of my characters. For instance, I'm really a mean SOB when I'm writing Semirhage.

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  • 80

    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?

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  • 81

    Interview: Oct 26th, 1994

    Question

    Someone asked RJ, "Why the pseudonym?"

    Robert Jordan

    He replied, "What makes you think it's a pseudonym?" which the questioner followed with, "Well, I've that it is from a number of people." RJ finished with, "Well, yeah, I've heard all sorts of things from all sorts of people."

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  • 82

    Interview: Oct 26th, 1994

    Greg

    My girlfriend asked him about the "Trolloc" horn on his cane.

    Robert Jordan

    He said it was a ram's horn.

    About the time the line was getting fairly long and the people a little restless, someone told RJ that he'd love to have a new WoT book out in February, then another in March, then another in April... RJ asked the crowd (aka "the lynch mob") to turn on this guy.

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  • 83

    Interview: Oct 26th, 1994

    Greg

    I also asked RJ what Tor thought about the length of his series in terms of the number of books in it.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ said that Tor has told him to write as many books as he wants/needs to, and that Tor has never asked him to "stretch" the series out into more (money-making) books. He also said that even if Tor pressured him, he wouldn't do it.

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  • 84

    Interview: Oct 11th, 2005

    Ted Herman

    The second signing session of the day was local, just a short drive up a rainy, traffic filled highway. This one had a Q&A session also, same restrictions on autographs though (two hardcovers, no personalization per trip in line). RJ seemed like he wanted to get going quickly for an early trip to the next stop tomorrow, so I only went through the line once.

    Robert Jordan

    In the Q&A, everyone was using the same questions that are answered in just about every Q&A RJ does, or at least recently: about writing female POVs, about compiling his notes, how does he store all the info about the plots and characters, etc... He did give some new info/answers on a couple of topics. He did repeat the tidbit about writing additional side stories that was on Wotmania today. He mentioned that he hates Apple computers because the early versions were not compatible with each other :p He mentioned if a mini series is done on NBC, there might be other sequel series on showtime or sci-fi channel.

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  • 85

    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

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  • 86

    Interview: Oct 30th, 1994

    Question

    About skill comparisons between main character swordsmen:

    Robert Jordan

    "Read the book." About the forms used: I was curious, so I asked if he had studied the sword fighting arts or just researched. It's research, and the forms come from Japanese sword fighting and some European fencing, before the advent of well-designed and well-made guns made swords obsolete. He mentioned one book in particular, but I can't remember the title... :(

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  • 87

    Interview: Oct 30th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Newsflash!

    The covers aren't as bad as we thought they were. The 'extra' character in The Eye of the World really was in the book, but was cut out later, because he had too little to do. His parts were distributed out to the other characters, but they never got around to cutting him from the cover.

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  • 88

    Interview: Oct 30th, 1994

    Question

    Physics/Math background and how it affected his writing:

    Robert Jordan

    —only marginally useful

    —structure

    —Schrödinger's Cat and other Quantum Physics stuff helps with conceptualization of fantasy structure.

    —His editor (also his wife) said that the physics and math was more important than he gave it credit for. ;)

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  • 89

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    I know the last scene of the last book, I've known it from the beginning, I just have to get there.

    Fast Forward

    Well, let's talk about getting there. Let's talk about the process. Let's take a look at Lord of Chaos from the moment you start it.

    Robert Jordan

    All right.

    Fast Forward

    Because you are walking toward a final scene, and because you aren't sure how long it's going to take to get there, in terms of the events that are going to happen, the people that we are going to meet—let's talk about how you wrote Lord of Chaos, and the discipline you placed upon yourself to generate this 700 page book. How did you go about putting this last novel together?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, first off, along with knowing what the last scene is, there are certain events that I know I want to happen. Certain things that I want to happen, both in relationships between people, and in the world, if you will. I picked out some of those events to see if I could fit them in from the position everyone was in, the position the world was in at the end of the last book. I then began to roughly sketch out how I would get from one of those to the next. And then I sat down and began writing, in the beginning eight hours a day, five or six days a week. And—I do my rewriting while I am doing the writing. When I hit the end, I only allow myself to give a final polish. I keep going back while I am writing and rewriting the previous stuff. By the end of the book I was doing twelve to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. I did that for the last five months of Lord of Chaos, except that I did take one week off to go fly fishing with some brothers and cousins and nephews up in the Big Horn and Yellowstone. It was terrific. It kept my brain from melting.

    Fast Forward

    The more intense schedule—was this a more difficult book to write and get to the end of, in terms of the amount of time you had to spend than some of the others in the series?

    Robert Jordan

    No, not really. They're ALL like that. The only difficulty this time was that I perhaps went to the seven day a week and fourteen hour day a little sooner that I would normally. Partly that's because each of these books takes MORE than a year to write. The publisher likes to publish them once a year, though. With the result that with each book I've slipped a little bit more beyond the deadline, and I DON'T LIKE being beyond the deadline. So the further beyond the deadline I get, the more I want to put the pedal to the floor and get done.

    Fast Forward

    Does having to put that much time in per day affect your focus, your ability to work? I mean, do you ever get the feeling when you turn something in that if you had another month to do it you could have put more of a "shine" on it, or are you satisfied with the product when it is turned in?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm satisfied and I'm not satisfied. It doesn't have anything to do with the time. The effect of the time is that I have to work to disengage my mind so that I can go to sleep. I have to read somebody else who will engage my thoughts. Charles Dickens is always great for that. If I don't do that, I will lie there all night thinking about what I'm writing, sure that I will go to sleep in just a few minutes now, and then it gets light outside, and I haven't been to sleep yet. What happens is that I get this DESIRE to keep writing. Once upon a time, before I was married, I used to write for thirty hours at a stretch.

    Fast Forward

    Good Lord.

    Robert Jordan

    And then I would sleep for nine or ten. I didn't do this all year round, it was just when I was working on a book. When I get going, I want to keep going. And about the other thing, I ALWAYS think I can make the book better. I'd probably spend five, six, ten years on a book if I was left to myself, trying to polish each phrase. So it's just as well I do have deadlines to bring me into the real world.

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  • 90

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Fast Forward

    Did you think it would be the kind of phenomenon it is? The last two have been on the best seller lists.

    Robert Jordan

    Are you kidding?!

    Fast Forward

    Did you have any idea it was going to have this kind of success?

    Robert Jordan

    Of course not! I mean you hope for something like this. Nobody writes a book and hopes for a flop. And, all right, maybe if you write something you've turned out in a month just to get enough money to pay the rent, you're not hoping really, with any real thought of it making The New York Times, say. But any book you write ordinarily, you hope it's going to be successful, and maybe in the back of your head there's some little dream that, "Yes this one, this one will make The Times. And they'll invite me to Stockholm as well." You know, if you're going to dream, why not dream? But practicality says, "Forget it Jack."

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  • 91

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Fast Forward

    And your work has undergone an INCREDIBLY intense analysis. I mean, you have people dissecting PARAGRAPHS, trying to find hidden meanings, trying to forecast future events. Trying to determine where you drew certain elements of the religions and the beliefs and the customs that you have presented in these six books.

    Robert Jordan

    It's all part of the plan. (Laughs)

    Fast Forward

    It's all part of the plan?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, not really. Not that anybody would go into that depth of analysis. But I want to make the books as layered as possible, so that you could read them on the surface and have a good time, and no more than that. I have twelve year olds who write me fan letters, and I'm certain that's how they read the books. But I wanted layers beneath that, and layers beneath THAT, so that no matter how many times you read the books there would always be something new to find.

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  • 92

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Fast Forward

    Does it ever present a challenge to you, or do you ever find it disconcerting when things that—you have a progression of story, you have some events you want to happen. There are certain things that are foreshadowed, sometimes specifically in dreams or in auras that are presented to particularly talented people. Are there ever times when people start making assumptions that certain things are going to happen that are either totally wrong...

    Robert Jordan

    Oh YES.

    Fast Forward

    ...or that you don't want them to know that much about what's going ahead that has resulted in a rethinking how you're going to present things? Has it had any effect on the writing itself?

    Robert Jordan

    No. Not to any real extent. There are two things. One, occasionally I will find that the speculation is perhaps getting a little too close to something that I want to keep hidden for a while yet. So I try to become a little more subtle in talking about that. The other thing is that sometimes I discover that there's intense discussion over something that I assumed was quite obvious. I wasn't trying to hide anything at all, thought I was being quite straightforward, and I think, "Maybe I need to find a way to slip in something, a mention if it just happens to come up anyway, to let them know that this is the way that is supposed to be." It's simply a matter of how things come about, how it occurs with my work if it happens to come up.

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  • 93

    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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  • 94

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1994

    Fast Forward

    We had talked, a little bit, about your schedule and how much time you've had to put into the writing, especially the latter part of a cycle of completing a book. Do you have to think very carefully about taking time away from the writing in order to maintain the schedule you keep? I know there has been incredible interest in your book tour, which you are currently on. As a matter of fact, the reason you are here in Washington, D.C. is because the fans of Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time in this area pitched such a fit...

    Robert Jordan

    They burned a couple of embassies, I heard.

    Fast Forward

    ...on the Internet, that TOR added this to your already extensive tour schedule. Which allows you to be here, so we appreciate that very much—thank you folks, for doing that. But does it make it difficult for you to do the other things you want to do in your life? Do you find yourself calculating more what it's costing you away from the book?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. My vacations are almost inevitably now a few DAYS tacked on to the end of a business trip. The fishing trip was an aberration of wild dimensions. I stuck with that despite various people saying, "Can you really do that, can you really take the time out?" I said, "I plan to get my brothers and cousins and nephews together. We're going to fly fish, we're going to fly fish, I don't CARE, we're going to FLY FISH, and catch some trout." But generally I have to think about things like that. I don't go to conventions very much anymore, I used to go to a lot of them, I don't have the time.

    Fast Forward

    And that's why, of course, your time is so valuable when you are available to people around here. Well, WE'RE out of time, as a matter of fact. Mr. Jordan, thank you for being here. Tad Williams, when he was on this show, basically called his Dragonbone Chair Trilogy the "story that ate my life", which it seems like The Wheel of Time, based on our discussion, is at least nibbling on the edges of this portion of your life. Which for our sakes, in terms of finding out what the end of the story will be, we hope won't be TOO much longer. And for your sake too, so that you can afford to take a couple of months to go fly fishing with your family.

    Robert Jordan

    It would be nice, but if a book is worth doing, if it's worth wrestling down, it's always going to eat your life.

    Fast Forward

    And on that note we say thank you very much.

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  • 95

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    4. I heard about the hoax. Thanks for the printout of the posting. I suppose whoever posted it thought this book—The Westing Game—had some influence on some part of my writing. I'll have to try finding it; it would help, of course, if I knew whether it was fiction or non-fiction, and who the author is. Or maybe it's part of the hoax, too. The Eddings War? The Grin Thingy War? The Lanfear Trials? Elucidate further, my dear. Sorry to hear of so many falling by the wayside.

    A note: Taim, whether you mispronounce it as TAME or pronounce it correctly as tah-EEM, doesn't rhyme with the others. Isn't anyone required to write poetry in school anymore? Of course, that dates me to the Dark Ages by most peoples' view, but I can still knock off a fairly good sonnet, Elizabethan or later.

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  • 96

    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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  • 97

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    Do you remember when you conceived The Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    The first thought that came to me was what would it be like, what would it really be like, to be tapped on the shoulder and told you were born to be the savior of mankind. And I then very quickly thought, what would happen if the savior of mankind really showed up and he was really there to save the world from impending doom, what would the real response of the world be? And after ten or twelve years of knocking around in my head, because I always give my books a long lead time, that turned into The Wheel of Time.

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  • 98

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    Jordan's books have been called a combination of Robin Hood and Stephen King. He manages to create characters that seem real, perhaps because he uses many of his own personal experiences in the telling of these epic stories. Do you ever use your experiences in Vietnam in your stories?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, indirectly. I know what it's like to have somebody trying to kill you. I know what it's like to try to kill somebody. And I know what it's like to actually kill somebody. These things I think help with writing about people being in danger, [or] especially if it's in danger of violence ... which happens occasionally in my books.

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  • 99

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 1995

    Interviewer

    Meanwhile Jordan continues to work on the next volume of The Wheel of Time series with no idea when he'll finally wrap the whole thing up.

    Robert Jordan

    I know where I'm going.

    Interviewer

    You do?

    Robert Jordan

    I know where I'm going. I know the last scene of the last book. I could write it now. I could have written it before I started this series. I know how all of the major story lines are going to resolve. I just have to get there. And I'm not sure how many books it's going to take. There are going to be several more books. There are going to be some more books. There are going to be a few more books. But not too many.

    Interviewer

    No telling how many volumes The Wheel of Time will eventually get. But with Robert Jordan as the author, you can bet that we're in for some very interesting reading.

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  • 100

    Interview: Jun 17th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    The reason Robert Jordan chose to write fantasy was its opportunities to build cultures and experiment with them, in a way and with a freedom to comment that is unachievable with a "realistic", domestically based world.

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  • 101

    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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  • 102

    Interview: Jun 17th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    The interview then continued with the communication between the various characters, and Robert Jordan stated clearly that every person keeping a secret, or withholding information, has a good reason for it, even if it in many cases are very personal. He exemplified this with the relation between Birgitte, Elayne and Egwene, where everyone knew that all knew Birgitte's secret (or at least a large part of it), but due to Elayne giving her word, the situation could not be resolved. Robert Jordan also took this as an example of the very great significance on a person's word and on oaths that the people in TWoT places. A word given is something to be kept, at all costs, however the circumstances changes.

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  • 103

    Interview: Jun 17th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    With the final scene in the final book (which he eloquently said did not have to be identical with Tarmon Gai'don), all major plot lines will be resolved, and most minor ones. Some minor plot lines would still be unresolved, as a way to let the world continue to live and breathe. The surviving characters would still have lives to go on with, even if more "boring" ones. Robert Jordan though stated clearly that if he was going to write another book(s) in the WoT universe (something he thought was not going to happen), it would be placed at least 1,000 years apart from the events in the current books. There would not be any spin-off stories, or stories written by other authors set in the WoT universe, either.

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  • 104

    Interview: Jun 16th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    There is nothing he would have done basically different with hindsight in the writing of TWoT. Originally The Eye of the World was half as large as it was printed, but the later books have been written so "tight" from the start that it has been impossible to shorten them.

    His writing technique with the WoT books he described as "simply stretch out and run".

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  • 105

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    JVoegele

    Mr. Jordan. were you rushed by publisher deadlines?

    Robert Jordan

    In a way. Not with the last book, certainly but The Eye of the World took four years to write. Each of the other books took 13 or 14 months but the publisher brought out the second book 10 months after the first and the following books at 12-month intervals. You can see there's a law of diminishing returns there. For this last book, I simply told them I could not do it again. A Crown of Swords took about 20 months to write, in fact. That's why the book didn't come out last fall or earlier in the spring.

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  • 106

    Interview: Apr 5th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan's Writing Process

    Jordan spoke a bit and answered a few questions about his writing process. He said that he originally thought the series would be three to four books. When he was negotiating a contract with Tom Doherty, he told Tom that he didn't know how long the series would be, but that he did know the ending. Jordan says that writers seldom get contracts under those circumstances, but Tom signed him one because he like Jordan's writing. The contract was for six books.

    After Jordan wrote the first book, he increased his estimate to four to five books for the series. After the second, he thought it would be 5-6, then 7 or more, etc. Now he does not give any estimate of the length of the series and is upset that the jacket of Lord of Chaos suggested that the series would end with eight books. (Update: In an open letter sent courtesy of Tor Books, dated 19 May 1996, Jordan said that the series will comprise at least ten books.)

    Jordan says that the idea for WoT came to him about ten years before he began writing. "What would it feel like to be tapped on the shoulder and told, 'Hey, you're the savior of the world?'" He began writing The Eye of the World four years before it was published (and I say that it shows).

    Jordan has lots of notes for the series. He began by writing approximately ten pages (of notes) of history about each of the countries in his story, more for the places he was going to use first. Right now his notes fill more pages than his manuscripts, he says.

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  • 107

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Hi. We're speaking with author Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series, and the newest book is Lord of Chaos. And . . . welcome to the show.

    Robert Jordan

    Thank you for having me.

    Dave Slusher

    And you're here on a publicity tour, and you're in Atlanta now. We're talking to you just prior to your signing at Oxford Books. Briefly, if you can—I know your series sort of defies brevity in a way—tell us a little about the series and the place of the newest book in the series. It's a very large question.

    Robert Jordan

    It isn't really possible to tell you a little bit about it at this point. When the third book was published, I was asked to do a one-paragraph synopsis of each of the first two books. And I said that isn't possible. And then I was asked, "well then, can you do a one-page synopsis of each of the first two books to send out with the third one to reviewers?" And I said it really isn't possible. You don't realize, I'm doing War and Peace here, except that I'm doing it for an entire continent, not one nation, and I'm doing it in a fantasy world that never existed, so everything is being created. It isn't possible to do it that quickly. A bare bones outline of each of the first two books was ten to twelve pages, and that was very bare bones. Not possible to do a short outline, no.

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  • 108

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    How did the series come about when you originally started writing it? You started about eight years ago?

    Robert Jordan

    I started writing about eight years ago. The first thought occurred to me, oh, somewhere between 18 and 20 years ago. My books always bubble around in my head a long time before anything gets on paper. Actually, yeah, I guess it is about that.

    The first idea that came to me, the first thought, was what is it really like to be the savior of mankind? What's it really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told you are the savior of mankind, and oh by the way, we expect you to go mad and die in order to fulfill prophecy and save everybody. That was the genesis.

    Dave Slusher

    Originally, had you planned it to be as epic in scope as it has turned out to become?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really. When I went to my publisher originally—and this was about 1986—I said I want to do this set of books, and I have no idea how many books I'm talking about. It is at least three or four, it might be five or six, I don't know. And luckily he was willing to go along with that. Most publishers would not go along with that. Most publishers would not go along with me not giving then an outline for the book, but instead giving them a twelve- or fifteen-page philosophical treatise explaining the themes of the book, and not a damn thing about what's actually going to be in the books. But Tom has always liked what I write, so he was willing to go.

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  • 109

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Tell us a little about the origins. Basically in any type of fantastical literature, you don't have the crutch of being able to pillage our own history so much. You have to make everything from the mythology and the basis of the culture up. I would imagine this was a pretty tall task for this series.

    Robert Jordan

    It's complicated. My degrees are mathematics and physics, but one of my hobbies has always been history. And also what now is called, I suppose, social anthropology. Those were hobbies of mine from the time I was a boy. It became relatively easy for me to create a "fake" culture simply because I had studied a good bit about how cultures came about. And I was always willing to ask the question of result. If you begin by saying: I want this, this, this, and this to be true in the culture I'm creating. But, you then say, if A is true, what else has to be true? And if B is true, what else has to be true? And more than that, if both A and B are true, what has to be true about that culture? Then you add in C and D, and you've started off with four things that you wanted to be true in this culture, and you have constructed the sort of culture in which those four things can be true—not the only culture in which they could be true necessarily, but one that holds together.

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  • 110

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, when you're writing on this scope, you're writing on many levels at the same time. You've got the individual interactions. You've got the interactions of different cultures. You have the larger interactions of the good and evil, and you have the supernatural characters that are sort of pulling strings all down below them. How hard is it to balance the action through all of these different levels?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it's not all that hard in my head because I grew up in Charleston, which one writer once said makes Byzantium look simple. But I couldn't do it in a computer. I don't have the time to invest in that much effort on the computer simply to keep track of it.

    There are a lot of layers—everything is an onion. And we're talking almost a four-dimensional onion here. Any particular point that you look at—almost any particular point—has layers to it. It's one of the interesting things to me, is how much can I layer things without making it too complicated. It's quite possible for somebody to read these books as pure adventure, and I actually have twelve-year-old fans who do that. I was surprised to find that I had twelve-year-old fans, but I do and they read it just like that. Other people spend quite a lot of time discussing the layering, and it's fun for me to do.

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  • 111

    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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  • 112

    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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  • 113

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, structured as it is around the prophecies and the circularity of your history, does that lend to the story a certain . . . obviously, it focuses where the story can head. Does it limit you in any way, when you've got characters that are acting out the prophecies?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really. What I do is have certain main points that I know I'm going to touch on. But I am flexible in the order that I touch them, and I'm flexible in how to get from one to the next. Think of it as traveling cross country, and you know that you're going to go to mountain A, mountain B, mountain C, and mountain D. But maybe you'll go to mountain D first and mountain A second, and then you'll slide back to C. And in traveling from one mountain to another, you can take a lot of different paths.

    It becomes a little bit more complex because you have to imagine this whole piece of terrain is only one layer, and you have another piece of terrain stacked above it, and another stacked above it, and another stacked above it, and another stacked above that. And which path is taken on the first level influences which path can be taken on the second level, which influences which path can be taken and which can't on the third level, and so forth on down the line. But still, the main points are fixed. It's only the paths between that flex.

    Footnote

    RJ might have been dropping hints here, in his special way, about Rand going to Dragonmount before going to Shayol Ghul.

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  • 114

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    In my reading of the book, it seemed to me that individual identity is one of the themes that pretty much permeates a lot of the interactions of the characters. You have various struggles. You have the struggle of Rand for his own identity. You have various people submerging their identities in either cultural bonds, or you have various bonds, the bonds between the Aes Sedai and the Warders.

    Robert Jordan

    It is one of the themes. We like to believe in the United States that we're a nation of great individualists. And we do have occasional great individualists. By and large, we are a nation of people who bond together in groups and are generally suspicious of anybody in any other group. It's always been a struggle for Americans, it seems to me, what group to belong to and how far to submerge ourselves in that group. How far do you retain your own thoughts, and how much do you go by received wisdom? Sometimes received wisdom is true, and sometimes it's not. And it's difficult sometimes to tell the true from the false.

    So, that is all part of it, that struggle, which I play out again and again. Because I'm not trying to give answers here, I'm basically trying to tell a story. And if in telling a story, I can make a few people think about this or that and ask a few questions, I'm really not that interested in what answers they come up with as long as I can get them to ask the questions.

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  • 115

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Do you have any personal experience from how Americans read the book versus other cultures?

    Robert Jordan

    I've spoken to people in England and Australia who've read the book. I've had fan mail from Spain and Sweden. As a matter of fact, I've been invited to be the guest of honor at the Swedish national fantasy convention next year. With a very laudatory letter, I must say.

    There's a very different view in the different countries. Everybody picks up different things. Somehow, and I don't know how, really—it's something I was trying for but I don't know how—I've managed to make resonances in each of these countries. But, it seems from the mail I've received that it's subtly different what resonances they pick up.

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  • 116

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, a lot of fantasy, and yours is no exception, deals with the idea of nobility. It's a very old tradition in fantasy going back a thousand years, to have the idea of someone of common upbringing that rises up to the leadership position.

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, further than that.

    Dave Slusher

    And your structure is quite similar to the King Arthur structure.

    Robert Jordan

    It's not only an ancient structure like that. It's in places like, oh, say a country that has a tradition of the common man born in the log cabin and rising to the White House. You know, anybody can be President. And in recent years, anybody has been.

    It's an old tradition, and it's not just American. I've seen it in Japanese and Chinese mythology and African mythology. In Asia and Africa, more often the fellow who's the commoner who aspires to greatness gets punished for it by the gods. It is more—I should say, not exclusively—but more of a European and Middle-eastern tradition that the common man can challenge the gods, the entrenched powers, and conquer, or at least work out some sort of rapprochement.

    And yeah, I work with that. I've tried to mine myths from every country and every continent. And reverse engineer them, of course. The Arthur myths, the Arthur legends, are easily recognizable in the books. I tried to hide them to some extent, but frankly Arthur is, I believe, the most recognizable legend in the United States. More people know about King Arthur than know about Paul Bunyan or Davey Crockett or anything that we have out of our own culture. But the others—myths from Africa and the Middle East, Norse mythology, Chinese mythologies—those things I could bury more deeply, more easily, because they're not very much recognized here.

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  • 117

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    Now, let's talk a little about when you first started writing this series. Did you have any indication that it would be as popular and take off the way it has?

    Robert Jordan

    Of course not. Look, I hoped that the series would be successful. Nobody writes a book and hopes it's going to be a flop. But as far as this—no, I had no notion, no notion at all.

    Dave Slusher

    And I'm sure that you're aware of it. For example, on the internet there's a very large group devoted to your work. Very in-depth discussion. Does this flatter you, that people are so willing to discuss in very, very fine detail?

    Robert Jordan

    It's a wonderful ego stroking. And it's also astonishing. I've known it about it for some time, and I'm not certain I'm over it yet, really. It does sort of make me want to drop my jaw. I find it astonishing. And, as I say, it's very very flattering, very flattering.

    Dave Slusher

    Do you find that people's interpretations of the book, do they match up with what you intend? Or do people sometimes bring to you an interpretation that you hadn't thought of yourself?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, more often they're trying to work out details of what I'm intending to do, and what I have meant by things that I've already written. I've been sent in some cases sheets of Frequently Asked Questions and the answers that have been deduced. The only thing is, they're right between 20 percent, and oh, 33 percent of the time. They're almost right maybe another 20 percent of the time, 25 percent. And the rest of the time, they've gotten off into an incredibly wild tangent that makes me wonder if I ought to re-read the books to figure out how they came up with this.

    I do look at what they have said. And by that, I mean I look at it when somebody sends me a print-out. I'm not on the 'nets, normally. But sometimes people will send me a print-out of a couple of days of discussion, or a Frequently Asked Questions list, as I said. And I'll look at that, and it does give me some feedback.

    There are things in the books that I have tried to bury very deeply. And if, from the discussion or from the questions, I can see that they're beginning to get close to something I want to keep buried, I know that I have to be more subtle from now on, that I haven't been subtle enough. Or, on the other hand, there are some times when I realize that they're spending a lot of time discussing something that I was certainly not trying to make obscure that I thought was perfectly obvious. Then it becomes plain to me that I've gone the opposite way. I didn't say enough about it for them to understand. So then I have to maybe reiterate a little bit.

    But I certainly—I don't change the plots or anything like that. I'm certainly not going to alter the fates of major characters or anything of that sort, whether someone has figured out what that's going to be or not. I must say, they've not figured out very much of that accurately, but it's fun to see.

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  • 118

    Interview: Oct, 1994

    Dave Slusher

    In your background, you attended The Citadel. And you're a military man, you served in Vietnam. Did that kind of help you with this head for intrigue and the Machiavellian interactions that we have in this book?

    Robert Jordan

    Actually, all that really helped me with is that I know what it's like to have somebody trying to kill you. I know what it's like to have a lot of people trying to kill you. And I also know what's it like to kill somebody. These things come through, so I've been told by people who are veterans of whether Vietnam, or of Korea, or combat anywhere—Desert Storm; I had a lot of fan letters from guys who were there.

    As far as the Machiavellian part, as I said I grew up in a family of Byzantine complexity, in a city where there has always been a great deal of Byzantine plotting. The court of Byzantium never had anything on Charleston for either plotting or blood feuds. It came as mother's milk to me.

    Dave Slusher

    Do you think that these books, such as they are, could only have been written by a southerner, and someone with a head for that?

    Robert Jordan

    These particular books could have only been written by a southerner because I write in a somewhat southern voice. My major influence as a writer, I think, is Mark Twain. And, there's no denying the southern voice of the books. If someone from another part of the country had written them, they would sound entirely different.

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  • 119

    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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  • 120

    Interview: Jun 21st, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    He may or may not give a Lan POV. The POV is usually determined by the slant he wants to give to the information. Sometimes he plans for one character to have the POV, but has to switch to another.

    Footnote

    The only Lan POVs completely written by RJ are in New Spring.

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  • 121

    Interview: Jun 21st, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    He talked a little about his next series, Shipwrecked. It will be in a different universe, and focuses on a group of shipwrecked people (surprise, surprise). They come from a land with many countries, but basically all ruled by one religion that dominates everywhere. The new place has three powerful countries, but temples to hundreds of different gods and goddesses. It's going to talk a lot about culture shock I think.

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  • 122

    Interview: Jun 21st, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    He can be reached either by either email or snail mail through Tor in about the same amount of time. Tor prints out his emails and sends him the hard copies about every fortnight. They also send his snail mail biweekly. He does respond to them, but he gets backlogged at the end of writing a book.

    Here is the rough time schedule for book eight. The manuscript should be turned in sometime in fall of 1997. Expect it to go on sale in spring of 1998. He worked 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 20 months, except for a couple days for each Thanksgiving and Christmas and a few single vacation days, to write A Crown of Swords. PNH, his wife, and everyone he knows told him he needs to slow down so he doesn't kill himself. Thus, PNH gave him 18 months to do the manuscript.

    His wife said he is the only author she allows to submit partial manuscripts for editing. She also does Morgan Llewelyn, the Bears and David Drake among others. She said she was starting to reduce the number of authors she edits since she is overloaded. She edited one of RJ's books before they ever dated, so their professional relationship was already established before they married. She feels that mutual respect for the other's work is what keeps the two relationships from interfering with each other.

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  • 123

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    OMNI Muse

    We're glad to have you here! I've got lots and lots of questions, and I'd like to ask you to briefly tell us about Wheel of Time before we get started. :)

    Robert Jordan

    It can't be done! Not briefly. This is Loial's country. :) I can't even do it in two or three pages. My advice is to read the books. :) And start with The Eye of the World, please. :) It works much better that way.

    OMNI Muse

    LOL! Okay, we have lots of fans out there, so let's get to the questions.

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  • 124

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    David Berenthal

    Considering all the work you've been through already, you'll probably hate this question, but when can we expect the next book, and how many more do you expect?

    Will you be writing any other books that are similar fantasy/fiction?

    Robert Jordan

    First, I expect to deliver the next book in the fall of next year, which means that it will probably be published in the spring of 1998.

    I do not know how many more books there will be. There will be at least ten total, probably more...but the safest way to say that is to say "there will be a few more, not too many, and please god not as many as have already been written!"

    Other books? Not until I finish the Wheel of Time. I am already working in my head on what I'll do after that. It is indeed a fantasy series. I have a long gestation period for my books. The Wheel of Time gestated for at least ten years before it appeared on paper, and Shipwreck seems to be doing at least that.

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  • 125

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ryssgarde

    You are an inspiration among fantasy writers. I am wondering how you started on this massive undertaking?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I wrote! I had some ideas and I wrote them! I don't know how else to say it.

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  • 126

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Lyndon Goodacre

    First, I'd like to thank you for such a great series. The Wheel of Time is probably the best I've read... My Question: Do you know roughly what will happen between now (Book 7) and the last scene of the last book, or are you making it up as you go along?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes and no. I know the last scene of the last book. I know the major events I want to happen between now and then. I know who will be alive and who will be dead at the end of the series. I know the situation of the world. I know all of those things, but I leave how to get from one point to the next free...so that I can achieve some fluidity. I don't want it too rigid, which is what I think will happen if I plan in too great a detail.

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  • 127

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Edward Henry

    Mr. Jordan: How do you create the personalities for your main characters? What inspires you to help make your people believably different?

    Robert Jordan

    I sit down and do a sort of descriptive sketch of each character. What do they believe about certain things? What do they like to do, and what do they not like to do? It's very useful as long as I make sure that a character continues to react as they would. The fault, the mistake is to decide to make a character behave or speak in a certain way because you need it to happen in the story...and the devil with whether the character would do or say that.

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  • 128

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    James Tillett

    Being English, I cannot help but notice that you are very much centered in the US. Bearing this in mind, do you consider yourself an international author who is based in America or an American author who just happens to have an international following?

    Robert Jordan

    I would have to say I'm an American author, and more specifically that I'm a Southern author. My voice is both very American and very Southern. I've been lucky in that people in a great many nations seem to enjoy that voice, though.

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  • 129

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Charles W. Otten

    Mr. Jordan, I think your series is the most detailed and still the most broad in scope series currently running. How do you keep everything straight? Also, how many books do you see in the future before this "series" of the Wheel is done turning?

    Robert Jordan

    I keep detailed files on every character, every nation, every culture, every facet of the world I can imagine. If I printed out all of the manuscripts of all the of the books, and all of the notes, there would be twice as many pages of notes...and of course that doesn't encompass the great quantity of things I have tucked away in my head, so solidly fitted there I feel no need to put them in the notes.

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  • 130

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Lauryn

    I love the song lyrics in your books. Do you write songs and music other than in the books?

    Robert Jordan

    No, not at all I'm afraid. Some poetry to my wife now and then, that's all.

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  • 131

    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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  • 132

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Dave Berenthal

    Are there any particular themes that you have added since the beginning, e.g., theme or characters that you did not have in mind when you first thought up the series? Are there any items of the story that have been cut out that you would like to tell us about?

    Robert Jordan

    In both cases, no. I have, in some cases, developed the story in ways that I did not quite intend to at first, but there has been no important character who has been deleted, there has been no necessity to add in something I did not expect to add in.

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  • 133

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Steven D. Salisbury

    Why introduce a somewhat important character like Cadsuane so late in the series? Is the fact that it seems a little odd supposed to be a clue?

    Robert Jordan

    She's introduced late in the series because this is the place where she was supposed to come in. I didn't expect her to be a part earlier in the series—there was nothing for her to do! We introduce no character before her time. With apologies to Orson Welles.

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  • 134

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ammon

    Have you ever put your own personality in one of your characters, or do you liken yourself to one of your characters?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I expect there's a bit of me in all of the male characters. My secretary thinks that I am Mat. My wife thinks I'm Loial. Other people have said they detected me in other characters, but I think it's just a bit of me in all of the male characters. I'm not sure how I could have written them otherwise.

    Footnote

    It's not clear whether RJ's 'secretary' is Maria or Marcia Warnock. (Marcia seems more likely as RJ generally referred to Maria as his 'assistant'. She started working for him about this time.)

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  • 135

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Edward Henry

    Do you have a favorite character? If so whom, and how do you avoid doing bad things to those you "love"?

    Robert Jordan

    One, my favorite character is always the one I am writing at that moment, even when I'm writing one of the Forsaken or Padan Fain. I always try to get into that character's skin, so that I can write about that character with success. As far as doing things to characters I like, well, if the story calls for bad things to happen, so shall it be. We do not all make it to the end of the road, however good or fair.

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  • 136

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Moiraine Damodred

    I'd like to thank you for your wonderful series. It has provided me with many hundreds of hours of entertainment at home and at work. Are there any other fantasy authors or titles that you are particularly fond of? Do you ever re-read your own Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    The only time I re-read is to check on something when I have to make sure of exactly what I said in a certain circumstance about a certain character or incident.

    As far as the people I read, there are far too many to list...Tad Williams, Barry Hughhart, Ray Feist, it could be a very long list, but we'd be here quite a time listing authors.

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  • 137

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Ryssgarde

    I would like to see the fires in Rand's head quenched, but I would settle for them being significantly subdued. Do you find yourself WANTING to make things happen sooner so that you can delve into other areas of a character's psyche?

    Robert Jordan

    I sometimes feel impatience but I am trying to maintain the same pace, making great effort to maintain that pace, to go neither faster nor slower than I have gone before.

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  • 138

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    James Tillett

    Of the many themes that occur throughout your books, which do you consider the most important?

    Robert Jordan

    I think that's for the reader to decide. I like to put things out there and let the readers absorb them as they will. One of the things that has happened that I rather enjoyed was listening to some people talk as they waited for me to sign books. They were discussing the books, then changed the subject, and, without meaning to, were discussing what I consider one of the subjects of the books...that was very gratifying.

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  • 139

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    D. John Witherspoon

    In the first five books, the pace of the story, switching between character situations and the action in general was high speed and covered significant periods of time. In Lord of Chaos, the story seemed to slow. Was this intentional or only my perception?

    Robert Jordan

    It covered a shorter period of time, but in Lord of Chaos and A Crown of Swords there were a great many things that happen in a short time that made it necessary to have the books, if not slower paced from the reader's point of view, slower as far as the chronology is concerned.

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  • 140

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Brendan T. Lavin

    I have found the prophecies in your books very structured. Would you recommend a prospective author structuring any prophecy in this way? And, did you establish the main prophecies in the series early on and think to yourself, "Now how am I going to fulfill that one?"

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it is a matter of knowing what I wanted to happen in the story, and how I wanted the story to go, and placing prophecies that would foretell these events, sometimes in very shadowy ways. As far as structuring prophecies for your own work, I think you should do it however you want to do it; it's the only way you can!

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  • 141

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Seancha’

    What are your days like and how do you discipline yourself to write? Is it something you only do when the mood strikes, or do you work at a page, despite it not really flowing, and then edit like hell later?

    Robert Jordan

    A writer who waits for the mood or the muse to strike will starve to death because he or she won't write very much. I write almost every day, I would say every day, but occasionally I actually do something else. My typical day is to have breakfast, answer the phone calls I have to answer, deal with the letters, and then I sit down and start writing. I then write for at least the next eight hours straight, and sometimes ten or twelve or more. Though I do occasionally take a day off to go fishing, my usual week is seven days.

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  • 142

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Charles W. Otten

    I find your style similar to Ernest Hemingway in your attention to detail. Do you consciously write this way, or do you find yourself just writing this way? I wish to write in the future after life's experiences and this would be of great assistance.

    Robert Jordan

    I simply write the way I write. I don't try to imitate anyone. I've certainly read—and still read—Hemingway, and admire most of his books, but I think the person with the greatest influence on my style is Mark Twain. The trouble with that is that I've read a great many authors, and I can't say who has most influenced me over the years without my knowing it.

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  • 143

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Eric Ligner

    With the scope of this work, it must have been on your mind for a long time. When did you first conceive the story and how many years after that was the first book published?

    Robert Jordan

    I had the first notions for this book, I guess it was 1975 or '76. For these books I should say. But there were a lot of things to think out, a lot of changes I went through. For instance the character of Rand and Tam were originally one. I spent about ten years noodling the story around in the back of my head before I ever put words on paper, but that's rather typical for me. My books have a fairly long gestation period.

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  • 144

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Matt Campbell

    Which of the books did you enjoy writing the most and which was the biggest let-down?

    Robert Jordan

    None of them has been a let-down. And I always enjoy the book that I'm writing the most. I do try to make each book better than the last one I've done. When I've finished with a book, I'm on to enjoying the next one, and working on the next one.

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  • 145

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Edward Henry

    How much editing do your books get? Does the story or your writing get modified?

    Robert Jordan

    The story does not get modified. Occasionally the writing is modified to this extent—a good editor tells you what is wrong, as another set of eyes. A good editor says, "I don't understand what you're saying here you haven't told me enough, you haven't made me believe that this person will do this or say this." And then I go back and work at making sure the editor is convinced. Remember the editor is the first reader. If the editor isn't convinced, I doubt the fans will be either.

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  • 146

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Jim Porter

    Congratulations on A Crown of Swords. It is a wonderful read. Do you find the extra several months you took to write it contributed to the overall readability of the book and actually made it shorter in length?

    Robert Jordan

    Possibly. It was actually a good bit more in time. With the exception of The Eye of the World, which took four years to write, each of these books has taken me somewhere on the order of thirteen or fourteen months. A Crown of Swords took twenty months. There were several things I had to work out. Too much was happening and the book would have been too long. I had to work to cut things out—and that's not as easy as it sounds.

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  • 147

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Lyndon Goodacre

    It seems to me many authors say they write because the books they wanted to read hadn't been written yet. Is this true in your case?

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, I suppose it might be. If I were just a tad lazier of course, I could quite happily sit back and read other people's stories forever. The truth of the matter is that I have these stories that I'd like to tell. If someone had gotten there ahead of me, I might never have written. Or, who knows, I might have found I had another set of stories to tell that no one had written.

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  • 148

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Martin Reznick

    Does your world have defined natural laws in terms of: the One Power, the True Power, the weather, etc., or do you make them up as you go along?

    Robert Jordan

    There are set laws—there have to be—if you write stories where anything can happen, they get flabby, you lose focus. I have certain set laws and limits on the One Power, the True Power, and all of this. And these limits and laws come out in pieces, they are not the focus of the stories so they only come out in bits and pieces.

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  • 149

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    JJVORSmith

    My wife wonders why you left all the plot threads hanging at the end of A Crown of Swords. I have felt that A Crown of Swords is more like the middle of a book rather than a complete book by itself. Could you explain how you pace and structure your books in the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    Not inside the time we have for this interview! :) As with all of the books, there are some plot elements hanging and some resolved. In some, there are more plot elements tied up than others; some, fewer. It just depends on how the story line is running in that particular book.

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  • 150

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Firifly

    Considering that WoT is such a success, after you have finished this series, can we look forward to anything more coming from this world, past or future?

    Robert Jordan

    Not unless I think of something that I particularly want to write, a story I very much want to tell. At the moment, I plan to do another fantasy novel in another universe. I'm working on that already in the back of my head and have been for a couple of years.

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  • 151

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    AaronB20

    Did your interaction with fans lead you to make certain things previously hidden obvious in this book?

    Robert Jordan

    No, not interaction with fans. There are always things that are going to become more obvious as the story goes along. I certainly don't intend to keep everything hidden until the very last. There won't be any Perry Mason revelation scene where all the characters sit down and say, "This is what happened and this is why it happened." :)

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  • 152

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Gaul Aiel

    Will the next book take as long as A Crown of Swords to be released?

    Robert Jordan

    Probably...I am due to deliver it in the fall of next year which means it will come out probably in the spring of the year following that. I decided writing the books more slowly was better than falling over dead. :)

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  • 153

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Scandium2

    How much longer do you anticipate the series will go on? I have heard ten, but is anything definite yet?

    Robert Jordan

    It will be at least ten books, yes. There will be some more books, not too many, and please God, not so many as I've already written. I am, in truth, writing as fast as I can. I want to maintain the pace of the story until I reach the final scene, which has been in my head since before I started writing The Eye of the World.

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  • 154

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    Sarpeshka

    Mr. Jordan, how do you come up with names for characters in your stories?

    Robert Jordan

    I have a huge list of names. Whenever I see an interesting name I jot it down. I almost never use the name as it is, though. I change it.

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  • 155

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    SCLaCore

    Which of the books is he most satisfied with?

    Robert Jordan

    I couldn't really say. I try to make each book better than the preceding book and frankly, once I have written a book, I stop thinking about it. My mind is focused on the next book, to the extent, actually, that when I came back from turning in A Crown of Swords, though I intended to take a short vacation, I found myself sitting at the computer and working on the next book.

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  • 156

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 1 (Verbatim)

    MHAJEK13

    Any chance of producing a "what has happened already" update, either in the next book or maybe as a seperate piece?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, let's see, it would probably take—if I made it as short as I could—three volumes. I don't really think so. :) I'm afraid you're just going to have to read the books. Sorry about that.

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  • 157

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Jaw 707

    What did you think about those folks arguing with you about YOUR characters?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I'm sort of used to it. It's been going on for a long time now.

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  • 158

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    MRHowley

    How old where you when you started writing?

    Robert Jordan

    I was 30 when I started writing. Maybe 29. I'd have to sit down and figure it out. It was a while ago.

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  • 159

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Gaul Aiel

    MR. JORDAN: Do you realize what you are putting us through with the time between books?

    Robert Jordan

    You guys get to sit around with your feet up between books! :) I bust my hump writing them.

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  • 160

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    OpenStone

    How difficult is it to get a major publisher like TOR to publish a novel, Mr. Jordan?

    Robert Jordan

    I forgot who asked this, but it wasn't difficult to get Tor to publish my first novel. Tom Doherty liked what I write. I've been writing for 20 years and I told him that I had an idea for a multi-volume book. I didn't know how many books and probably any other publishers would have thrown me out of his office but Tom said OK!

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  • 161

    Interview: Aug 4th, 1996

    Question

    What is the title of the next book?

    Robert Jordan

    I don't know that yet. I don't really come up with a title until about half way through the book. As of right now it has a working title of "Book Eight".

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  • 162

    Interview: Apr, 1997

    SFX Magazine Interview (Paraphrased)

    Robert Jordan

    Firstly, in the event of his death his will states that his notes on TWoT are to be destroyed and no-one is to complete the series for him.

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  • 163

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    How long did it take you to plan the Wheel of Time world?

    Robert Jordan

    A very long time. Almost ten years of thinking about it before I began writing. And then four years to write The Eye of the World. Then roughly 14 months each for the next five books, and about 20 or 21 months for A Crown of Swords. You see, I have the world planned out, but quite often details are a work in progress.

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  • 164

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Considering that schedule, do you spend every waking minute on your books or do you do other things in between that prepare you to write?

    Robert Jordan

    I do other things. I fish, although not nearly as often as I should, just for relaxation purposes, and of course I read. Actually, I have to read. If I don't read someone else before going to bed, I will lie there awake all night thinking about my own work and what I want to do next.

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  • 165

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    How much did Tolkien, or even Eddings' Belgariad chronicles influence the WOT series?

    Robert Jordan

    Eddings certainly not at all, and as for Tolkien, only to the degree that (1) he showed that it was possible to write a very large series of books, a very large story, and (2) the fact that I purposely did the first, oh, perhaps 80 pages of The Eye of the World as an homage to Tolkien in a way, that it was set in the same sort of pastoral country that Tolkien wrote about.

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  • 166

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Why is there such a long delay before characters return to the main story? i.e.: Lan.

    Robert Jordan

    Not everybody can be center stage front at the same time.

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  • 167

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Robert, do you see yourself as any of the characters?

    Robert Jordan

    I see myself as whoever I happen to be writing at the moment. Other people have notions... they think I'm this character or that. I'm everybody.

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  • 168

    Interview: Oct 18th, 1996

    AOL Chat (Verbatim)

    Question

    Do you completely control what the characters do, or do they occasionally surprise you with their actions?

    Robert Jordan

    The characters never surprise me. In terms of the book I am God. A writer who says that the characters take control is doing one of two things... either he or she is telling people what they want to hear because a lot of people seem to want to hear that the characters have taken over... or else, that writer is being exceedingly lazy and not paying attention. The characters NEVER really take over.

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  • 169

    Interview: Oct 12th, 1996

    Robert Jordan

    Someone asked Jordan about the 'gars, and mentioned that he'd seen theories that Lanfear was one of the 'gars. I was expecting a RAFO, but RJ gave the guy a disgusted look, and said that "No, Osan'gar and Aran'gar are Aginor and Balthamel." The guy said (I'm paraphrasing here), "You're confirming this, and not hinting about it?" RJ replied (more paraphrasing), "I'm confirming. After all, it's pretty obvious in the books that it's those two. After all, that's what Aginor thought was so funny; Balthamel, the lecher, was stuck in a female body." Jordan then went on to give the standard disclaimer that a lot of the clues are already in the books, and reasonably intelligent people should be able to figure a lot of this out. His job, he said, was to make sure you're still guessing about some stuff at the end of the story.

    It's fairly safe to say that this was Jordan's version of thwacking the guy with a clue stick...

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  • 170

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Bondoso

    I think some of the books are a lot better than others in the series. Is this because of pressure from your editor? Did you ever have to publish a book when you knew it wasn't quite finished or that it could have been better given more time?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I've never had to publish a book that I believed was not finished. On the other hand, I always have to set myself a cut-off point. Otherwise, I will keep rewriting and rewriting and the period between the books will stretch out to, oh, five or six years.

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  • 171

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Bondoso

    Talking about rewriting your books... I know you have a general idea about what is going to be in a book once you start writing it, but how much does it actually differ from the story layout once you get caught up in the writing process?

    Robert Jordan

    The difference varies. Some parts are very close to what I intended in the beginning, some parts vary to a great degree. it all depends on how I feel things should weave together at the particular moment I'm writing them.

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  • 172

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Gurney

    How much of the series do you plot out beforehand, and how much is written as you go?

    Robert Jordan

    Before I began writing the first book, I knew the beginning, I knew the last scene of the last book, I knew ALL of the major events that I wanted to happen, I knew how all of the major relationship would go, I knew how people would be affected by those relationships, I knew who was going to live, I knew who was going to die. You can see, I knew a good bit, including that last scene of the last book and how all of the relationships were going to end up. I have left myself the freedom to change the way that I go from one point to another, depending on what seems best at the moment. You might say it's like sketching in the larger out line of the story and leaving the details to be variable.

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  • 173

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Mel

    Do you put any of your friends or your personal character traits into your characters?

    Robert Jordan

    No, none of my friends, none of me. There is a touch of my wife in all of the major female characters, however, and a good many of the secondary female characters. She's a very complex woman.

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  • 174

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Gurney

    How do you keep a series this complex together in your mind?

    Robert Jordan

    Nothing that any genius couldn't do.

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  • 175

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Bondoso

    Mr. Jordan, how do you feel when someone finds a minor or perhaps a major inconsistency in your books? (I'm not saying there are any. :P) Do you say, "oh well, better luck next time," or do you get really upset?

    Robert Jordan

    Sometimes people have found things that are typos, and sometimes people have found a place where a change or correction that I had intended to be put into the book was not before it was published. I always try to get those corrected as soon as possible after they're found. And, while I don't like having them there, I'm glad when someone points one out to me.

    As for inconsistencies, I'm afraid inconsistencies are a failure to read the books correctly. Every time somebody has come to me with an inconsistency, I have been able to point out in a return letter where their mistake was.

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  • 176

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Loial

    What do you think has been your best book thus far? Do you like writing more action or more for the human emotions?

    Robert Jordan

    My best book is the one that I'm working on now. My best book is ALWAYS the one I'm working on now. And, as far as I'm concerned, action is always secondary. The main part of the story is the relationships between people. Those relationships sometimes lead to god-awful troubles, battles, etc., etc., but it's the relationships that are the important things.

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  • 177

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Gemmell

    Are you considering writing any more short stories based on the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    I have agreed to do a short story in the universe of the Wheel of Time for an anthology put together by Bob Silverberg called "Masters of Fantasy," which I understand will include Stephen King, Anne Rice, Terry Pratchett, Ray Feist and some other people. That's it, really, as far as short fiction. I don't normally have the time to write short fiction.

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  • 178

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Bondoso

    What other things keep you busy apart from working a lot on The Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    Hmm. Trying to finish the books would be enough for any sane person. I occasionally find time to go fishing, although not so far this year. I find time to read a little bit. Less than one book a day now. And I don't really have a great deal of time for anything else. When I'm doing anything else, I feel I should be writing. It's a sickness. [smiles]

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  • 179

    Interview: Jun 28th, 1997

    Ishamael

    What made you decide on Robert Jordan as your pseudonym? Is it Hemingway?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it wasn't Hemingway. I simply wanted to separate the different kinds of books that I wrote with different names, and I made lists of names with my real initials and picked one name from one list and one from another, and Robert Jordan was one of the names that popped out.

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  • 180

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Bob from California

    I hear you wrote a Western? Is that true? If so, I'd love to read it. Any plans for any more Westerns or historical novels in the future? By the way, I just got The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time...what a gorgeous book. Great work!!!!!

    Robert Jordan

    Well, thanks. As far as the Westerns go—yes I wrote a Western once. A little out of the ordinary, set in the 1830s and with only one major character who was not a Cheyenne Indian. I might do a Western one day or more historical novels. History and the American West in general interest me greatly. But for the moment, The Wheel of Time takes up all of mine—time that is.

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  • 181

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Gautam Mukunda from Harvard University

    Mr. Jordan—I'm a dedicated fan of your series who's bought all of the books in hardback, and first I'd like to thank you for bringing such a wonderful world to life for us. It seems to me that your work is something relatively new in fantasy—you're exploring a situation where there is no known quest or goal to be fulfilled in order for victory to be assured. Instead it seems more like the real world—uncertain, with the heroes fighting a war without knowledge of the 'victory conditions'. Would you care to comment?

    Robert Jordan

    I wanted to write a fantasy that reflected the real world. With characters who reflected real people—not specific people—but characters who were real people. And there are things about the real world that I wanted such as people who end up heroes very rarely set out to be heroes and heroic journeys consist mainly of sleeping rough and going hungry, wondering how you are going to pay for the next meal and wonder exactly what it is you are supposed to do and how are you going to get out of it alive.

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  • 182

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    John from California

    Why did you choose to use a pseudonym for your Reagan O'Neal novels? I love them every bit as much as the Wheel of Time series.

    Robert Jordan

    I wanted to put different names on different kinds of books so there would be no confusion. I didn't want anyone to pick up a book because they had liked my last book only to find that they had bought something they didn't want to read.

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  • 183

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    JRS Caudill from Minneapolis

    Mr. Jordan, I believe you have stated in past interviews that you already have an idea for your next project. I wonder, have you begun to work on it yet? And, will you work on both series simultaneously or will you complete the WOT series first? Also, is there any source currently available for us to see your work written under the pseudonym of Chang Lung? Thank you.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes I have an idea for what I intend to write after I finish the Wheel of Time, but I have not put anything down on paper. And I will not until I have finished the Wheel of Time. Until then, the next work exists only in the back of my head. As far as Chang Lung, I don't think there is any source anywhere except for my files and I'd just as soon leave them there. There are few things more boring than ten-year-old dance reviews and theater criticism.

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  • 184

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Joel from Arizona

    When you first started writing the Wheel of Time did you have a set plan for the whole series or were there some things you just thought up as you stumbled upon them in your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    I knew the beginning, that is the opening scenes, I knew the final scene of the final book, I knew the very general line that I wanted the story to take from the beginning to the end. And I knew a number of major occurrences that I wanted to take place in a number of relationships that I wanted to develop. I left open how I would get from one major occurrence to the next to allow for fluidity in writing. I did not want to set anything in stone. Sorry for the pun, but that does lead to rigidity.

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  • 185

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Lily from Florida

    Do you have any short stories? I love your novels and am wondering if you have any short story collections out?

    I've never done a short story except that I am at the moment working on one which will be in a collection called Masters of Fantasy, which Robert Silverberg has put together. Actually I'm not certain it really counts as a short story—more of a novella.

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  • 186

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Corey Elliott from Amarillo, TX

    I have heard that you once said there are many things in your books that you were surprised readers hadn't discovered. And there were also things you were surprised we had "deciphered". Any comments?

    Robert Jordan

    Too true. Too true. But when I find out that something I wanted to be obvious isn't, I do look around to see if I can find another place to slip in a hint.

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  • 187

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Matt from Ohio

    I know this is a tough question, but which character in the Wheel of Time is your favorite, and which character is most like you? I'm also eagerly awaiting The Path of Daggers; is there anything specific you can tell us about the plot?

    Robert Jordan

    About The Path of Daggers—Nothing. Read and Find Out (RAFO). As far as who I like best, it's whoever I happen to be writing at the moment. I try to get inside the skin of the point of view character, whether it's Rand or Nynaeve or Semirhage. As to who I am most like, I think I am probably a combination of Rand, Mat, and Perrin. On the other hand, I'm afraid my wife says that I am Loial.

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  • 188

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Mike from Boston

    When you create a character, how much do you know about them? Do they ever go off in directions you hadn't expected?

    Robert Jordan

    When I create a character I know as much as possible about them—as much as I can possibly conceive. Characters do not go in directions that I don't expect, because I am the writer, after all. Sometimes I will see a possibility that I didn't expect to use a character in a different way and I do like to do that, especially if it's something I don't think people will expect.

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  • 189

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Joar from Costa Mesa, CA

    You have mentioned that you intentionally tried to recreate some of the feel of Tolkien's Middle Earth, especially in the first book. Considering many of the similar elements between the stories and the fact that time in your world is cyclical, with heroes being reborn through the ages, did you intend to imply that Middle Earth could possibly be "an Age long past, an Age yet to come"?

    Robert Jordan

    Certainly not. In the first hundred pages of The Eye of the World I did try to invoke a Tolkienesque feel. But after that I have certainly not tried to reflect in any way Middle Earth. As a matter of fact, beginning back in that very early part of The Eye of the World, I deliberately took off in a very different direction from Tolkien and I've been running hard in that direction ever since.

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  • 190

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Rudi Nuissl from Colorado

    When you first started writing, what was your first effort and how long was it before you had anything published?

    Robert Jordan

    My first book was accepted by DAW and then rejected by DAW 20 years ago. Whereupon I immediately resigned my position as an engineer. The first year I made nothing, the second year I made 3000 dollars and the third year I made twice what I had made my best years as an engineer. I have been earning my living with my pen ever since.

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  • 191

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    The Chicago Sun-Times calls your work "A fantasy tale seldom equaled and still more seldom surpassed in English." This is rather high praise! What does fantasy mean to you? Why would you decide to write epic fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    It is certainly high praise—embarrassingly high! I chose fantasy in a large part because of its flexibility. It is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face in fantasy, and while one of the themes of the books is the difficulty of telling right from wrong at times, these things are important to me. There are always shades of gray in places and slippery points—simple answers are so often wrong—but in so much "mainstream" fiction, there isn't anything except gray areas and slippery points, and there isn't 10 cents worth of moral difference between "the good guys" and "the bad guys." If, indeed, the whole point in those books isn't that there is no difference. Besides, while I read fairly widely, fantasy has been in there since the beginning. My older brother used to read to me when I was very small, and among my earliest memories are listening to him read Beowulf and Paradise Lost. I suppose some of it "took."

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  • 192

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    As a man who served tours of duty in Vietnam, how does your epic reflect your own personal experiences with war, and how difficult is this for you to write about?

    Robert Jordan

    It really doesn't reflect any of my own experiences, except that I know what it is like to have someone wanting to kill you. I don't try to write about Vietnam; I thought I would, once, but now, I don't believe I could make myself. But I know the confusion, uncertainty and out-right ignorance of anything you can't see that exists once the fighting starts; I don't think war will ever become sufficiently high-tech to completely dispel "the fog of war." So I can put these sensations into my writing.

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  • 193

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    What do you hope readers will gain from reading your novels?

    Robert Jordan

    I do hope that people will occasionally think about "the right thing to do," about right behavior and wrong, after reading one of my books. I certainly don't try to tell them what right behavior is, only to make them think and consider. But mainly, I just want to tell a story. In this case, about ordinary people pushed into extraordinary events and forced to grow and change whether they want to or not, sometimes in ways they never expected and certainly wouldn't have picked out given a choice. I am a storyteller, after all, and the job of a storyteller is to entertain. Anything else is icing on the cake.

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  • 194

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    It has been said that the elaborate and rich descriptions you use to create your worlds and characters bring your stories to life. Where do your descriptions come from? Are any of your characters based on real people?

    Robert Jordan

    The descriptions come from years of reading history, sociology, cultural anthropology, almost anything I can put my hands on in any and every subject that caught my eye. Including religion and mythology, of course, necessities for a fantasy writer, though I went at them first simply because I wanted to. It all tumbles together in my head, and out comes what I write. I don't try to copy cultures or times, only to make cultures that are believable. I can't explain it any better than that.

    I don't base characters on real people. With one exception, at least. Every major female character and some of the minor have at least a touch of my wife, Harriet. I won't tell her which bits in which women, though. After all, what if she didn't like it? She knows where I sleep.

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  • 195

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Waldenbooks

    What does your fan mail tell you of the chords you've struck to create such a devoted following?

    Robert Jordan

    In large part, that I've created characters people believe in. One fairly common is that the reader knows somebody just like Mat or Nynaeve or whoever, or that they feel they could meet them around the next corner. Character is very important to me; story flows from character. Also, I suspect that the strong interweaving of mythologies from a number of cultures plays a part, too. Modern society—at least in the West—pretends that we have outgrown the need for myth and legend, but people seem to hunger for them. Where we have forgotten our myths, we create new ones, although today we don't realize what we are doing. But then, maybe people never did truly realize what they were doing in making myth; perhaps it has always been an unconscious act. The cultural trappings surrounding myth and legend vary widely by country, but if they are stripped to the bare core you find among the same stories repeated over and over around the world. However different their cultures, custom and mores, people share many of the same needs, hopes and fears. Anyway, I believe there is a strong echo of myth and legend in my writing, and I think people feel that.

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  • 196

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Cantrell from Brown University

    How much of a framework do you have for the next book following the publication of one? Do you have a good idea exactly where you will pick up or does it take time to let things settle and pick up after a complete withdrawal from the work for a while?

    Robert Jordan

    I have a fair notion of where I intend to pick up. And I generally have a good idea of a number of things that are going to be in the book for the simple reason that every time that I sit down and list the things that I intend to put into any given book, it always turns out to be more than I can put into that book. So, there are always things left over that I wanted to do in the preceding book. And they go into the current book.

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  • 197

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Dianna from Toronto

    With all the characters and plotlines, how do you keep track?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm a genius? I just do it. I really couldn't say how. I keep it in my head, with the exception of notes on countries, cultures, that sort of thing, but the story is all in my head. It doesn't seem to be particularly difficult to hold it all.

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  • 198

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Ramo from Montreal, Canada

    First of all, I would like to thank you, Mr. Jordan, for doing this. I have been reading (and rereading) the Wheel of Time for some time now. I am amazed by the number and complexity of characters you have created for this world. Now my question is, can we assume that most of the characters that we read about in one book and then disappear in the other books will make a comeback at some point? I am thinking about Elyas and Domon, among others.

    Robert Jordan

    Some of them will. Read and find out!

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  • 199

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    John Simms from Riverside

    Any idea about a title for book 9?

    Robert Jordan

    No. I have to do a little writing before the title becomes clear to me. I don't start off with a title. That always comes to me at some point during the writing. Something that seems to fit the specific book.

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  • 200

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Matt from Chicago

    Mr. Jordan, how did you go about coming up with the story line of Wheel of Time? Did you think about it over several years or did you have a set time frame in which you had to develop it? Any advice for someone trying to write fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    My advice to someone trying to write fantasy is, go see a psychiatrist. As far as how I developed it, I certainly didn't have a deadline set. Many years ago, more than 15, not as many as 20, certain ideas started poking around in my head, rubbing against one another, and this slowly became what is the Wheel of Time. I really don't know that I could explain it any better than that. At least not if I don't go on for hours. For that matter, if I go on for hours, I'm not sure I can explain it any better than that.

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  • 201

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    The Man from Ganymede from WoTism

    How far in advance did you plan the later novels like Lord of Chaos and A Crown of Swords? Did you know the series would be this long when you started?

    Robert Jordan

    I did not know the series would be this long in the beginning. When I first went to my publisher, I told him, I know the beginning, and I know the ending, and I know what I want to happen in-between, but I'm not sure I know how long it will take me to get from the beginning to the end. Now, don't laugh, but I said to him, "It's going to be at least three or four books, and it might be as many as five or six."

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  • 202

    Interview: Oct 25th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    He said the book-signing tour will run through November 22nd. He'll spend two days fishing in Canada, and then return home to Charleston for Thanksgiving. (He said he finds being on tour exhausting, and always spends the following several days doing nothing at all.) After Thanksgiving, he'll start in on the next volume.

    Someone mentioned the Internet-based rumors about him suffering from heart attacks / other forms of poor health. I couldn't tell from his expression whether RJ was amused or annoyed: Probably both equally. He replied that he's in good health with a resting heart rate of 71 beats per minute and good cholesterol.

    He told quite a few people that the series would be requiring a minimum of three more volumes, perhaps more—and pointed out that he'd had to find time to work on "New Spring" and the Guide, in addition to The Path of Daggers. He also pointed out that, so far, the books have always been published within a month of completion, which he called "instantaneous for the publishing world". He stressed that he wants to reach the end (the final scene that he worked out 15 years ago), and would like to be "as compact as possible". (He said "Don't laugh.")

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  • 203

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Sense of Wonder

    In a field where J.R.R. Tolkien has been used as a yardstick that leaves most authors far behind, the notoriously discriminating New York Times says you have come to dominate the world Tolkien began to reveal. As your Wheel of Time series has grown, the richness and compelling nature of your creation has also been favorably compared with that of other great masters in creative fields, including the Brothers Grimm, Aldous Huxley, Stephen King, Michael Moorcock, Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein, and Beethoven! You are part of a distinguished heritage. What do you feel is most distinctive about your work?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I believe I write with a distinctly American voice, and a distinctly Southern one to boot. There is a great story-telling tradition in the South. My grandfather, father, and uncles were all raconteurs, and I grew up listening to their stories, as well as those of other men. There's a touch of oral tradition in my writing. Maybe that's where Beethoven comes in. A spoken story must flow musically, in words and in structure. I believe that my fiction reads as if it were meant to be read aloud. It certainly goes well in the unabridged audiotape versions. In short, it is a matter of time and place and experience. I grew up in a different place and in a different way from any of those men, and lived a different life. I am none of those men, could not be, and don't want to be. I am myself.

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  • 204

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Sense of Wonder

    Speaking of coming from a different time and place, it has often been said that your military experience leaves a clear mark on your work. It's a matter of record that you served two tours of duty in Vietnam and your decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with "V," and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry. How would you say your military experience is reflected in your Wheel of Time series?

    Robert Jordan

    My writing doesn't really reflect any of my own personal war experiences, except that I know how it feels to have someone trying to kill you. I don't try to write about Vietnam; I thought I would, once, but now, I don't think I'd be able to. However, I know the feeling of confusion, doubt, and plain ignorance of anything you can't see that exists once fighting starts. I don't think war will ever become so technologically advanced as to completely dispel "the fog of war," so I put those feelings into my writing.

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  • 205

    Interview: Oct, 1998

    Sense of Wonder

    You are a strong support of literacy programs, such as Reading is Fundamental (RIF), and your novels have been praised by the American Library Association, VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) and Library Journal. Do you hope your work will be used to further literacy?

    Robert Jordan

    I hope so, and I also hope that people will occasionally think about "the right thing to do," about right behavior and wrong, after reading one of my books. I don't try to tell them what is right or wrong, only to make them think and consider. But primarily, I am a storyteller, and the job of a storyteller is to entertain. In the case of the Wheel of Time, I tell a story about ordinary people pushed into extraordinary events and forced to grow and change whether they want to or not, sometime in ways they never expected.

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  • 206

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Moderator

    Welcome, Robert! We're thrilled to have you with us here. Why do you think "The Wheel of Time" series has struck such a chord with fantasy readers? Do you have any speculations about its amazing popularity?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I don't really. I write stories...I try to write stories about real people. I'm really glad the books are popular. But, I don't really have any clue why they're so popular, except possibly the fantasy element. I think that we have a real need for fantasy as human beings. Actually Terry Pratchett says it quite clearly. He says that by believing in things that don't exist, we set ourselves up to believe in other things that don't exist such as justice and mercy.

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  • 207

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Gangorn

    Why have you changed your writing style for the past two books?

    Robert Jordan

    I haven't. The last two books are more concentrated in time than the previous books, but since the first book, there has been a narrowing of the time frame. So that by A Crown Of Swords, the book covered only about eleven days and we're now beginning to widen out again.

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  • 208

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Nick

    How long does it take you to write a full-length novel?

    Robert Jordan

    The Eye of The World took four years. The next five took fourteen or fifteen months each. A Crown of Swords took 22 months. The Path of Daggers took a little less than that, but during that book I wrote "New Spring" for the Legends anthology. And I also did a lot of work on a title coming up: The Illustrated Guide.

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  • 209

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    steves55

    Mr. Jordan, do you outline your books before you begin writing them?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, and no. At the beginning of a book, I make a list of the major events that that book will cover. I've known from the beginning all the events I wanted to cover and the last scene of the last book in detail. I could have written that one fifteen years ago. I know exactly where I'm going, you see. The list that I make always has to be pared down though, because I always believe i can fit more into a novel than I can find room to fit.

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  • 210

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Moderator

    I'm curious about your writing methods—do you write for a set number of hours every day? Morning or night? Do you prefer a computer or do you write long-hand on yellow legal pads? Inquiring minds want to know!

    Robert Jordan

    I most definitely write on a computer. I upgrade it about every 18 months. At the moment I'm using a Pentium 266 MMX with 32 MB ram and a 10G hard drive. I'll upgrade that in another six months. My writing day goes as follows: After breakfast I answer the phone calls and letters that I have to answer from yesterday. Then I start writing. I seldom stop for lunch and I stop about six or seven at night. That's seven days a week. Occasionally I take a day off to go fishing.

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  • 211

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Nick

    What were some of the jobs that you did before you were a writer?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really a lot... I was a nuclear engineer and I was in the US Army before that. Then I became a writer.

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  • 212

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Lisa_SFF

    Are you the one that sets the pace of the books being published, or is there a "plan" behind the timing of when they come out?

    Robert Jordan

    The books are published as fast as I can write them. In fact, in the beginning, you might say they were being published faster than I can write them! The normal lead time from ending a book to publication is eight months to a year. My last three books have been published within 60 days of completion by me.

    Lisa_SFF

    Really? I've been reading them since they came out, and the "delay" between the next ones seems to get longer...or maybe I read faster now.

    Robert Jordan

    That's why we now are out on a longer stretch between the books. But I do hope that the next one will come a little bit faster.

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  • 213

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Jimbo3

    Did you create Rand, Matt, and Perrin one at a time or all together?

    Robert Jordan

    One at a time...in fact, when I first started thinking of what would turn into The Wheel of Time, Rand and his foster father were one character. Not a 50-ish man and his teenage foster son. But a man in his 30's who had run away from a quiet country village seeking adventure, had become a soldier, and now after 20 years of that, world weary and tired. Who has come home to his pastoral village seeking peace and quiet, only to find that the world and prophecy are hard on his heels. You can see that that's a much different character that what I ended up with when I started writing. I may actually use him someday.

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  • 214

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    jude74

    Do you have a set amount of books planned for the series and if so, how many?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I dont have a set amount of books planned. I believe it will take at least three more books to reach the ending that I have known for more than 15 years. I knew what I wanted to do in these books, what I wanted to say, and how it was all going to come out, before I ever started writing them.

    jude74

    Wow! 15 years!

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  • 215

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Tijamilism

    Mr. Jordan, in another chat I heard you mention working on a book titled Shipwreck. Is that book still in the works?

    Robert Jordan

    Uh, Shipwreck is in the works in the back of my head, where it's been for 5 or 6 years. It is in fact what I will be writing when I finish WOT....a different world, a different set of characters, a different universe, a different set of rules. But I don't expect to put anything on paper until I have finished WOT...it's much easier to plan these things out in my head than to write them out on paper. Someone asked me where all of my critical path charts were for the plots, and I had to tell him they were in my head because they were too complex to put on paper charts, and the time necessary to put them into a computer would be approximately equivalent to put them into books. it's much simpler to keep it in my head.

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  • 216

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    FCT3000

    RJ—I know after A Crown of Swords you said that you expected to go three more books to the end. After The Path of Daggers you said the same. Do you find that the story is becoming harder to write or that there is more info to write?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it's neither harder, nor is there more info...it simply has been that it is more difficult...no, not more difficult, it is still difficult to get to the end. Remember, after A Crown of Swords I said at least three more books....the same thing I say now. Because every time I reach a branching point and put down a major event, I cut off other possible paths to other major events. It means that certain things then are going to have to take place in a certain order and a certain way because the other branches of the logic tree are no longer available. But don't worry, guys, I really am getting there! I apologize for the length of time it's taking me, but I really am getting there.

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  • 217

    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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  • 218

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Stormy

    I've heard other author's say that they "get a character in their heads" and the character pretty much defines him/herself from that point forward. Would you agree with that point of view? That the character defines him/herself? And what you do is speak for that character?

    Robert Jordan

    No, I would not agree with that at all. I think that writers who say that are doing one of two things. They are either being lazy and not paying attention to the processes of their own brains, or they're pandering to those readers who would like to believe that the characters are independent entities. When it comes to my characters, I am not only a GOD, I am an old testament God, with my fist in the middle of their lives. They are as I wish them to be, they do what I wish them to do, they speak the words I put in their mouths. And that is ALL they may do.

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  • 219

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Jimbo3

    Since you know the whole WOT series, how do you remember it all? Photomemory?

    Robert Jordan

    No....my father had a photomemory, but I don't. All I have to work with is a good memory, and an IQ of 170 or so, it works out well enough.

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  • 220

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    Talisein

    Speaking of your wife reminded me. Are you planning on updating the telephone message thing at TOR after you're done with your tour? And what's that piano I hear in the background on the recording that's there now?

    Robert Jordan

    I don't know what the piano music is except that I generally play classical music when I am working. I listen to Jazz, Rock, Country, various music—Deco, all sorts of things when I am relaxing—but I have to work to Classical and since I changed the CDs out I really couldn't tell you what particular piece it is. And as for updating the message, I will. I am told that the subject was broached while I was still working on the book—not to me—and the question was raised as to whether it was better for me to spend time updating the message or to go ahead and work. Since even a ten-minute break can mean an hour or more getting back into the flows and rhythms, apparently the decision reached was don't bother the man!

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  • 221

    Interview: Nov 15th, 1998

    Scott Cantor

    When I reached the signing table, I asked him if he had a better idea now how many novels there would be than he might have had previously, knowing it was a lame question, but he answered it politely.

    Robert Jordan

    He said he knew there would be at least three more, and that he generally finds himself with twice as much planned for a novel as he can pull off in 700 pages, which happened with the new one. This suggested to me that 5-6 more books would not be surprising.

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  • 222

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    Book timings:

    —Four years to write The Eye of the World; the next five took 14-16 months each.

    A Crown of Swords took 22-23 months to write.

    —The Guide to the Wheel of Time took 5-6 months; there was a lot of work he had to do on it that he didn't expect to need to do. I think he expected a few weeks of work from him directly, with it mostly being done by others.

    New Spring took 2-3 months.

    The Strike At Shayol Ghul was written from the perspective of a scholar trying to attract funding for a more complete version (i.e., grant money) and was his first piece of short fiction.

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  • 223

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Matthew Hunter

    Where did ideas come from?

    Robert Jordan

    What if you were tapped on the shoulder and told you had to save the world?

    What are the sources of myths? "Reverse-engineered" legends.

    The game of "telephone". (He calls it "whisper").

    Proud of the little things that slip up on you, like Callandor being "the Sword in the Stone."

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  • 224

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    The Path of Daggers could have been longer, but he had to take out events he had intended to include because including them would have required another month of Randland time, and that would have made the book "twice as fat."

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  • 225

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Joni

    Mr. Jordan, what advice would you give to a young and aspiring writer? And are these just rumors I hear that you might come to Portland, Oregon soon for a signing?

    Robert Jordan

    I was in Portland Oregon several days ago for a signing. My advice to a writer is to write; write and send it to paying markets.

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  • 226

    Interview: Nov 1st, 1998

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Silent

    Do you tend to edit your writing often or is your preference to not even look at it again once it is written?

    Robert Jordan

    I rewrite constantly while I am writing the book. For example, the prologue of The Path of Daggers had fifteen to eighteen rewrites...I don't remember, because I constantly change things as I go along. But towards the end there are fewer rewrites, so the last chapters may have only three or four or five each. When I have finished the book, I go through it one last time and then I cut off, because I realize that I could constantly improve each book.

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  • 227

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    ...how many books?

    Robert Jordan

    There will be at least three more books. I say at least because I've known the last scene of the last book for—

    Question

    Can you tell us?

    Robert Jordan

    I certainly will not, I haven't told anybody. Not even my wife and that's very difficult. I could have written that scene more than fifteen years ago. That's how well I know it, exactly how this all ends.

    Question

    How did you know you were going to take us on this journey?

    Robert Jordan

    I didn't know I was gonna take you along. All I knew was I was gonna write some stories and it helps when people would read them. And the rest of it, I don't really think I take any blame for that.

    Question

    How do you know that you could've written this fifteen years ago, this last scene? What are you going to do for the next, I think, three books? We're up to eight, we'll get these three...

    Robert Jordan

    I'm going to do quite a bit, I hope. Don't expect me to give you any details, that's for certain. Details and you'll read the next book and say, "Oh, I know that, I know that one, I knew that one, I knew that one. Damn he's getting boring. I think I'll go out and read somebody else." So no, I'm not going to tell you what's going to happen.

    Question

    How long will I have to be in love with you before then?

    Robert Jordan

    Could you repeat the question?

    Question

    I think the question that we're most asked as book-sellers is, "when is the next one coming and how many more will there be?" And frustrated fans of yours, Robert, say, "but I'm ready for the next one," and we patiently explain the problems with writing one—

    Robert Jordan

    The trifle problems, yes... It takes longer to write it than to read it. As I said, at least three more books. If I can finish it in three, I will. I'm not promising. I simply know it's going to be... I cannot do it in fewer than three. And as for how long till the next book, I hope to finish it by next May and the way as things have been going, well my English publisher and my American publisher have both been having books out within two months after I've handed in the manuscript. They pay a lot of overtime.

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  • 228

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    I was amazed at the proliferation when I started looking on the web in preparation for meeting you, at the number of Robert Jordan sites there are and the number of other activities your books have spurred. Games and art galleries, you can spend hours on the web let alone hours reading your books. Are you surprised by the proliferation of extra book Robert Jordan things that have emerged and the proliferation of fan clubs and sites and games and all the other spinoffs?

    Robert Jordan

    The whole damn thing surprises me. I just set out to write some stories and I hoped I'd get some people to read them. I never really had any thought that as many people would start reading them as have. I never gave any thought to the possibility of all the fan clubs or web sites, none of that. Sorry to be boring, but I just set out to write some stories.

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  • 229

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    Did you enjoy writing Conan?

    Robert Jordan

    Yeah. It was fun, in the beginning at least. By the end... Conan is an unusual hero in that he changes. Robert Howard wrote stories in which Conan was a pre-teen boy. He wrote stories in which Conan was a white haired old man. It's not usual for that sort of hero. That's when a hero's supposed to stay the same age and stay unchanged forever. I was able to pick a period that there wasn't much said about him and do a little development, and it was fun. And then after a while it was just working in somebody else's universe and I really wanted to get out of it and go on with my own stuff.

    Question

    It seems that you have a really good time while you're writing—

    Robert Jordan

    Oh yeah.

    Question

    And we can tell you're having fun.

    Robert Jordan

    Look, when I was caught with one of those books in school it was confiscated as trash and I was sent to the principal's office. It was not the sort of thing I was supposed to bring in school. I could've brought softcore pornography and it wouldn't have been any worse. I could've brought hardcore pornography and it would've been much worse. So yeah, I have a lot of fun with those books.

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  • 230

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    Are you still enjoying what you're doing—

    Robert Jordan

    Immensely.

    Question

    And how do you manage the enormous pressure that must be part of your daily life?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm a warrior god!

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  • 231

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    Do you read other contemporary fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    Sure. Gavriel Kay, J. V. Jones, Robin Hobb and Tad Williams, as long as he's not writing about animals. C. S. Friedman. I read a great many people and a lot of books that aren't fantasy, I must say. I realize that no more than probably fifteen percent of what I read is fantasy or science fiction. Maybe ten.

    Question

    You shouldn't do any of that reading yet, just keep writing!

    Robert Jordan

    Straight truth here. Straight truth here. I have to, I have to. Because if I don't read somebody else in the evening and get my mind uncoupled from the work, I lay down and spend the night just on the edge of going to sleep, thinking, "All right, a couple more minutes I'll be dozing off, I really feel like hell here." And my mind is worried and buzzing and clicking and working on the story, then it gets light outside and I haven't been to sleep. And the next day if I don't do it, the same thing happens—no sleep. And by three or four days of this I'm beginning to feel a little groggy and I'm beginning to stare at the page and realize I've lost the train of thought in the middle of the sentence. So if you will excuse me, I'm gonna read other people!

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  • 232

    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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  • 233

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    Are you a very disciplined writer? You must work, for example, between nine and five. How does that fit in with the pressure to complete the series, for example, from publishers?

    Robert Jordan

    Well I've never looked at the page of something more common. That's simple fact. I get up in the morning, I have breakfast, I go back down the long garden to the carriage house where my study is. And Maria, my chief assistant is in and she will... Phone messages from yesterday mainly that I should maybe call back about. I'll look at my email and see what I want to answer and what I'm going to ignore. And then I start working, I start writing. And that's probably... that could be, depending on how late I slept. I could be at work from nine to eleven which is about the time I start writing. About four o'clock in the afternoon I realize that I haven't stopped for lunch and I'm a bit hungry but it's too late to stop for lunch now. Cause I'm figuring I'll knock off at six and go in to eat with Harriet. And sometimes I do and sometimes I forget the time again and I get a phone call saying, "Are you ever coming in?" I look up and realize it's dark outside and I quickly go into the house. I don't know whether you call it disciplined or obsessed but there are very few things I'd rather do than write. When I get into the story, I'm really into the story. The creation of it is at that moment the most important thing in the universe. I've had windstorms breaking branches and rain hurling things all over the place. The big window beside my desk to this side. Glass sided door, long garden over here, glass front door... And I didn't know there was a storm. I didn't know it was raining, I didn't know there was wind, I didn't know there was anything...

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  • 234

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    Who is your favourite character?

    Robert Jordan

    Whoever I am writing at the moment. That's no lie. Whoever's head I'm inside, whoever the point of view character is and it doesn't matter who that is. If I am writing from Semirhage's point of view I have to like Semirhage to a certain extent. I have to like Semirhage because most people do like themselves to a certain extent. And if I don't, then Semirhage comes across as phony. My wife claims that she can tell when I've been writing certain people. There are days that I've gone into the house and I haven't taken three steps before she says, "Ahaa, you've been writing Padan Fain today, haven't you?"

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  • 235

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Question

    How did you go about getting your first work published and what setbacks did you encounter along the way?

    Robert Jordan

    The first work I wrote has never been published although it was bought and then rejected over a contract dispute by Dell within the space of two months. That was what convinced me I could write it. It was later sold to... Don Wollheim bought it as a fantasy novel. Later Jim Baen at Ace bought it as a science fiction novel unchanged from what it was before. And then Susan Allison came in and she didn't like it so I got it... got the rights reverted to me. It also resulted in me getting the Conan contracts and in me meeting my wife. So I decided this thing has major mojo going with it. Well it's also the fact that it glows in the dark. It'll never be published because I'm a better writer now than I was twenty odd years ago.

    My first published novel, I had walked into a book store and I had been talking to the owner of the book store, the manager, the woman that managed it, about the fact that I wanted to write, that I was beginning to write. I talked to her about books and all sorts of things, just in the book shop, that was all. There was a kind of romance novel called a bodice-ripper by a woman named Mary Robbins, big displays up front. Bodice-ripper is a sort of softcore pornography for women set in historical settings. And the shop owner said, "Do you know she has made three million dollars on her first two books?" In those days three million dollars with two books was Stephen King territory. That was like the forty-five-million-dollar contracts you hear about today. This is the sort of thing made people go, "Oh God!" and made the front of Time magazine. And I said for that kind of money I'd write one of those things. Okay, throwaway line, rimshot, forget it. Except the next time I came into the store the woman said, "You know a woman came in here and she's come to Charleston to set up a major publishing house, set up a publishing house, and she only wants to publish lead titles." That's the big book that the publishing house puts out every month, the one they really push. And that's all she's going to publish. She'd run out of business cards, she didn't have any business cards but here, she wrote her name in pencil on this lined three by five index card. I thought, right, she's come to Charleston to set up a major publishing house? No, no, no, no. That's like going to Death Valley to set up a ski camp. And she's only going to publish leads, that's like saying you're only going to publish best sellers, as it seemed to me, as it seemed to me then. But she managed to do it and no business card. Three by five index card, lined, penciled in. Right. Okay. I stuck it in my pocket to be polite and I went away. A week or so later I found it in my office in the drawer where I kept my pipe and tobacco as I was loading my pipe. Shows how long ago it was. I thought all right, I've got ten minutes I'll give her a call. So I gave her a call and found out that she had been editor or director of Ace Books and had just celebrated being promoted to vice president by resigning. And suddenly with that bit of experience behind her I'd realized she didn't sound so much like a nut anymore. She said, "I understand you're writing a bodice-ripper," and not waiting to lose a thread I said, "Yeah, well it's already been shown." She said, "Well, okay. I understand that, I understand that. Well why don't you come over and read me it and talk to me about it. Show me something, talk to me."

    So I made up an outline driving to her house. I talked to the woman in the bookstore about these books enough that I knew the basic format. Heroine loses her virginity in the first chapter. It is a circumstance that is not rape on technicality. That is, he, the guy has arranged for a tavern maid downstairs to come upstairs and snuggle into his bed. And Heroine for some phony boloney reason has decided to sneak into his room to try to steal something at the same time. And she tries to get him drunk so he... you know, it gets very complicated. Anyway on technicality he's not guilty but anyway, she then goes on to have a lot of sexual adventures in North Africa with Sheiks and Sultans, in China with the Mandarins, Bedouin raiders... the court of Napoleon and the court of Medici... And then at the end of it she's in great danger, she's rescued by this guy that turns out to be the guy who done her virginity in the first place and they get married. And everything is thus okay because she married the guy that took her virginity. All right, hooo, yeah. I tried writing this thing for a brief moment, I really did. And I couldn't hack it man. I got the plot right, I got the sex right but I read some of the books and they quivered. They were hysterical in the constant sense, that is every line quivered with emotion. And I couldn't quiver. I tried.

    About a year after that she called me up. I quit my job as an engineer and she said, "I'd like to see anything you've written." And being a professional I tried to talk her out of it. Because I knew the things I had written were not what she wanted to publish. She said, "Anything you have written, I want to see it." I took it to her, the book... the first novel I had ever written and when I went to pick it up from her later I got into a discussion about history. The forty-five in England, the American Revolution, the roles of the Scots and the Irish in the American Revolution particularly in the south. The publisher heard this and after the other woman had gone away, she gave me back a manuscript, she said, "You write a book and we'll publish this, but you can write. And what I want you to do is give the outline of a historical saga, a generational saga." And I did. That became The Fallon Blood. And the woman's name was Harriet McDougal and we started dating while we were touring for this book after she published it. I mean we toured for the book and she would give me another contract because we weren't quite sure how it was going to sell. And, ahh, I started missing her. I started coming back, hanging around and asking her out and whatnot. And eventually I asked her to marry me. Then I got really nervous because I thought, 'Hang on...I just asked a woman to marry me, and she is my source of income!' So I very hurriedly sold the book somewhere else so she would not be my sole source of income. That's how my first novel got published and that's how I met my wife and that's only about ten minutes as much as you wanted to know.

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  • 236

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Robert Jordan

    His wife was in fact a publisher, and it was through RJ's attempts to get published that he met her. He started dating her, and eventually married her. She did in fact offer to publish his book, but RJ realised it was not a good idea to have his wife as his sole source of income, so took it elsewhere. Another detail that I can remember (whoever was in the front row taping the event; could you write up his exact words throughout the session?) is that he used to write for a women's erotic "soft-porn" author, who gave him a headstart in the writing profession. His pronunciation was interesting, and he was humourous (Lady: "How can you deal with all the stress?" RJ: "I am a Warrior-God").

    Footnote

    The verbatim transcript of this question makes it clear RJ actually wrote bodice-rippers for Harriet, otherwise known as the Fallon books, and later Conan. Harriet herself has commented on the 'warrior god' thing. Also, RJ did in fact publish his first book with Harriet, but then they started dating.

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  • 237

    Interview: Aug 30th, 1999

    Paul Colquhoun

    Other observations/comments.

    Robert Jordan

    He does not plan to write any further books set in Randland after this series finishes, unless he has a flash of inspiration. RJ strongly implied that he didn't think this was likely, as it would need to be something very special/compelling. He has extensive notes on all the people/places on computer, but keeps all the plot lines in his head. He commented that he didn't think he could add any more plot threads without losing track! (Personally I find it hard enough to keep track while reading, let alone writing!). I asked him if he had considered publishing the notes after the series had finished. He said it would amount to something like an encyclopaedia, and that he didn't think there would be much interest... I tried to let him know that there were many fans who would lap it up. We may need to bring this up again later, if it hasn't already been done. Can we get his publishers to suggest it to him?

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  • 238

    Interview: Sep 20th, 1999

    Robert Jordan

    He listed his favourite seven authors (Joel Gilmore has all of them on his tape) but all I can remember at the moment are Twain and Dickens. RJ is a writeaholic when he gets going, and often skips lunch and writes all day. He enjoys writing in his garden, and this keeps him away from Harriet when he is in writing mode.

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  • 239

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    I've never used my real name on a book. In the late '70s, I used to think I would write a novel about Vietnam, and put my name on that. I had decided I would put a different name on different types of books, different genres, simply to avoid confusion. People would know clearly, this is a fantasy novel, this is a science fiction novel, this is a western, this is a historical novel, and I would put my real name on any contemporary fiction I write. Well, I've never written any contemporary fiction, as it turns out. If I wrote that Vietnam novel now, it would be a historical novel, and I'm not sure anybody's really interested anymore. Vietnam is a long time in the past, almost 30 years ago,' and it struck me that 30 years after my father came home from the South Pacific, not only had men walked on the moon, but the manned space program was already dying. That's a long time! It gives you a little perspective.

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  • 240

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    Right now I have fame, whatever you want to call it, but I'm not going to keep writing the same thing. I like fantasy, and I will write fantasy, but it's not all going to be 'The Wheel of Time'. I intend to change universe, rules, worlds, cultures, characters, everything, with the books I do when I finish 'The Wheel of Time'.

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  • 241

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    I've known the last scene of the last 'Wheel' book since before I started writing the first book, and that's unchanged. I thought 'The Wheel of Time' was going to be five or six books. I didn't think they'd be this long. I was doing this like a historical novel, but I had more things to explain, things not readily apparent. In a normal historical novel, you can simply let some things go by because the reader of historical fiction knows these, or has the concept of them. But this is not the medieval period, not a fantasy with knights in shining armor. If you want to imagine what the period is, imagine it as the late 17th century without gunpowder. I had to do more explaining about cultural details, and that meant things got bigger than I had intended.

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  • 242

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    The first book took four years. The next five books took, on average, 14 months. I finished Lord of Chaos in August 1994, handed the manuscript in, and in October, two months later, I was on tour for that book. I came back and said, 'There isn't time. I cannot write a book for you in time for you to publish it next fall.' I convinced them I couldn't do it, and it's lucky I did, because it turned out A Crown of Swords took almost two years, and so did The Path of Daggers.

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  • 243

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    There are things I am saying, things I am talking about, but I try not to make them obtrusive. The necessity to struggle against evil, the difficulty of identifying evil, how easy it is to go astray, are very simple questions. In modern mainstream fiction, if you discuss good and evil, you're castigated for being judgmental or for being old-fashioned. Originally this was a way of deciding which was the greater wrong—'It is wrong to steal, but my child is starving to death. Obviously, in that situation it is better to steal than to let my child die of hunger.' But today that has been transmogrified into a belief that anything goes, it's what you can get by with, and there is no real morality, no right, no wrong—it's simply what produces the Platonic definition of evil: 'a temporary disadvantage for the one perceiving evil.'

    In fantasy, we can talk about right and wrong, and good and evil, and do it with a straight face. We can discuss morality or ethics, and believe that these things are important, where you cannot in mainstream fiction. It's part of the reason why I believe fantasy is perhaps the oldest form of literature in the world, at least in the western canon. You go back not simply to Beowulf but The Epic of Gilgamesh.

    And it survives pervasively today. People in the field of science fiction and fantasy are willing to accept that the magic realists are fantasy writers, but to the world at large, 'Oh no, that's not fantasy, that's literature.' Yes it is fantasy. And a lot of other things, that are published as mainstream, really are fantasy but not identified as such. We really have quite a pervasive influence.

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  • 244

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    The new book, the ninth in 'The Wheel of Time', is Winter's Heart. I am aiming to finish it by May of 2000. If the publisher does what it normally does, Tor should have it out two months after I finish it. If they really want to be leisurely, they'll wait three months. The last three books they've had in the bookstore within 60 days after I handed them in. They give the book to their copy editor and she goes to her apartment, unplugs her telephone, stuffs sweat sox in her doorbell, and goes to the back of her apartment so she can't even hear anybody knocking on the door, and just works straight through to get this done. And Harriet and I go to New York and sit in a hotel room so we can get the copy-edited version back. We've got two laptops, and we're passing disks back and forth.

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  • 245

    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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  • 246

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    When are you hoping to have Book Nine released (do you have a title and is it possible to know what it is)? Is it also possible to give us a teaser to what the next book will be about?

    Robert Jordan

    The next book will be called Winter's Heart. The good lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I expect to finish the writing by the end of May 2000, and my American and British publishers are planning to put it out in November 2000. As for teasers, read and find out. Though I expect Tor Books will post the prologue on their website, as they have done for the last few volumes.

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  • 247

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    Is it possible to know how many volumes the Wheel of Time will be?

    Robert Jordan

    Sigh! At least three more. I know I’ve said that before, but it’s still the case. When I started this, I really believed I could finish it all in four or five books. Maybe six, I said, but I didn’t think it would take that long. By the end of The Eye of the World, I was pretty sure it would have to be six, and by the end of The Great Hunt, I knew it would be more. I have known the last scene of the last book since before I began writing, so I know where I’m heading, but as to how long to get there, I am just putting my head down and writing as hard as I can. Two minutes left in the game, four points down, and we’ve got the ball on our own five-yard line; they’ve been covering the receivers like a blanket and cutting off the outside like pastrami in a cheap deli, so we’re going to do it the old-fashioned way, straight up the middle, pound it down their throats, and nobody slacks off unless he’s been dead a week and can prove it. If you know what I mean. If I can finish it in three more books, I will, but I can’t make any promises on that, just that I will reach the end as soon as I can.

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  • 248

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    If and when you start another series of books after the Wheel of Time series will you use some of the characters from that series?

    Robert Jordan

    No. Absolutely, positively, never under heaven! I have no plans ever to return to this universe once I reach the end. If I have such a compelling idea one day that I simply must go back, then I’ll shift the story so far in time that it might as will be a different universe. Anything else would be doing the same thing over again. For the next set of books, I will be in a completely different universe with different rules, different cultures, different people. I expect I will examine some of the same issues—the clash of cultures, the tide of change, the difficulty men and women alike have in figuring out the rules of the game—but I certainly don’t expect to chew my cud twice.

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  • 249

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    What inspired you to write?

    Robert Jordan

    I decided that I would write one day when I was five. I had finished From the Earth to the Moon, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and I stood them up on a table and sat staring at them with my chin on my knees—I was rather more limber, back then!—and decided that one day I would make stories like that. But by age seven or eight, it seemed to me that writers who made a living from writing all lived in Cuba or Italy or France, and at that age, I wasn’t sure about that big a move. I followed my second love, science and math, got my degree in physics and mathematics, and became an engineer. I didn’t try writing at fifteen or twenty, because I didn’t think I had enough experience; I had nothing to say. At thirty, I was injured, spent a month in the hospital, nearly died, and took four months to recuperate enough to return to my office. I decided it was time to put up or shut up about writing one day, and the rest followed.

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  • 250

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    Have any writers influenced you?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I think so. I believe that the major influences on my writing are Jane Austen, John D. MacDonald, Mark Twain, Louis L'Amour and Charles Dickens.

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  • 251

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    Do you read fantasy yourself: and are you aware of the other fantasy writers out there?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I do. If anyone is looking, I suggest, in no particular order, John M. Ford, Isabelle Allende, Guy Gavriel Kay, C.S. Freidman, Barry Hughart, A.S. Byatt, Robert Holdstock, Tim Powers, Terry Pratchett, and George R.R. Martin. There really are too many excellent writers to list them all, or even come close, but these names are a start.

    Question

    If so would you want to work with any in the future?

    Robert Jordan

    I’ve never really thought of collaborating with anyone. It might happen, I suppose, but it just hasn’t occurred to me.

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  • 252

    Interview: Oct, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit Books

    What inspired you to write in the fantasy genre?

    Robert Jordan

    Some stories need to be told in certain genres, and fantasy allows the writer to explore good and evil, right and wrong, honour and duty without having to bow to the mainstream belief that all of these things are merely two sides of a coin. Good and evil exist, so do right and wrong. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference, just as it can be difficult to know what is the proper thing to do, but it is worth making the effort.

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  • 253

    Interview: Oct, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit Books

    Do you think of the Wheel of Time as one very long novel, or as a series of separate novels?

    Robert Jordan

    To me, the Wheel of Time is one very long novel, with the individual books being sections of the novel. I try to provide a certain amount of resolution within each book, but a reader must begin with the first. It really isn't any more possible to pick up the newest book and begin there than it is to try beginning any other novel with only the last few chapters.

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  • 254

    Interview: Oct, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit Books

    When you are writing, do you have a daily routine?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. I read the newspapers over breakfast, lift weights or swim for half an hour, then go to my desk, in the carriage house in the garden, and answer the email, letters and telephone calls that simply must be answered. Then I begin writing. I usually spend at least eight hours a day writing, with a short break for lunch, and normally I do this seven days a week. Occasionally I will take a day to go fishing, but unless I am away from home, I usually find myself wondering why I am not back at my desk writing.

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  • 255

    Interview: Oct, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit Books

    Which character in the Wheel of Time do you most identify with?

    Robert Jordan

    I always identify most with the character from whose point of view I am trying to write at that moment. I try to get inside their heads, inside their skins. Sometimes this has disadvantages. I have gone into the house at the end of the day and, before I can say a word, my wife has said to me, "You were writing Padan Fain today, weren't you?" Inevitably, when she says this, I have indeed been writing some character you would not like to be alone with. But if you mean which character do I think is most like me, well, Lan Mandragoran expresses the ideals I was raised to aspire to, while Perrin is perhaps most like me as a boy and young man. On the other hand, my wife claims I am a perfect Loial!

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  • 256

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    Do the events of the outside world (i.e. current affairs, politics and the like) affect what you write in your books?

    Robert Jordan

    They must filter in, to varying degrees. I follow the world news assiduously, and I can’t see how I could keep events in the world from affecting events in the books. But it happens when and as I choose. Refugees in Kosovo, ethnic cleansing, famine in Africa, civil wars, upheavals, floods, whatever—you might say I use those events to give authenticity to similar events in the books. I don’t like preaching, but I always hope my readers will think a little beyond the story, and I think that acquired authenticity helps.

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  • 257

    Interview: Nov 10th, 2000

    Brandon Downey

    Another guy behind me asked if he felt he was giving the books the level of detail he wanted (and RJ said yes), then he asked about the one sentence Lan/Toram fight.

    Robert Jordan

    RJ said that he had tried writing that scene several ways, but none of the split POVs (and have we even had a Lan POV, outside of New Spring?) seemed to work out. I chimed in, "Yeah, and Lan is enough of a badass to ice some punk in one sentence", and RJ said, "Yes, Lan is very, very good at what he does."

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  • 258

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    What is the best thing about being Robert Jordan and the worst?

    Robert Jordan

    The best thing is that I get to put my daydreams down on paper and make a living from it! I’m not sure there is a downside. I suppose that people always want to know when the next book will be coming out—even when they are getting me to sign the latest book, which they have just purchased and haven’t even begun yet.

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  • 259

    Interview: Mar, 2000

    Question

    What does the future hold for you?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I’d like to catch a thousand-pound black marlin, a thirty-pound brown trout, and a sixty-pound Atlantic salmon. I’d like to shoot a twenty-four point whitetail and a perfect round in sporting clays. I’d like to get another royal Flush in poker—I got one, once—finally learn how to play go beyond the basics. I’d like to learn to sky dive, and.... Oh. More writing, certainly, for as long as I can find a way to put words on paper. I used to keep notebooks of story ideas, until I realized that I wold need three or four lifetimes to write just the ideas already had. I would like to do different sorts of writing, too. History, stage-plays. I’ve been noodling around lately with the idea of musical composition, too, something I haven’t touched in many years. Given the way medicine advances, I might have lived little more than half my life so far, which means I have a few decades remaining. Not enough to do everything I want to do, but I think I can fill them up.

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  • 260

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Dave from Mankato, Minnesota

    What sort of things caused the Wheel of Time series to be so much longer than you originally anticipated? Culture description, character development, new plot developments, etc.? Or something else?

    Robert Jordan

    Not new plot, certainly. But I have been over-optimistic from the beginning about how much of the story I could get into each book. And in each case, I've found that I had to leave out things that I wanted to put into this book—or in any given book—and do them later.

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  • 261

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Jeff Zervos from Long Island, NY

    Mr. Jordan, The Wheel Of Time series is an incredible piece of work. It is truthfully beyond anything I have ever read, including the works of Tolkien. Is there any advise you could give to an aspiring writer who is having a terrible time getting started with his story? I'm also an amateur actor and I look forward to auditioning for the part of Padan Fain one day.

    Robert Jordan

    The only advice I can give is to keep writing! But if you want to audition for the part of Padan Fain, maybe you ought to seek psychiatric help!

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  • 262

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Candice from Greenville, North Carolina

    Do you ever feel under a lot of pressure to finish the books due to their popularity?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, sometimes. But I know where I'm going, I know how I want to finish it, I do not intend to speed up the pace to get there faster. In truth, the greatest pressure to finish it, I think, comes from ME. I won't really have done it until I finish it.

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  • 263

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Richard from Kentucky

    In fantasy, the epic battle between good and evil is a physical battle. How do you personally cope with experiencing the world of WOT, and having to face the real world? Also, are you like C.S. Lewis in that you can't believe in the world you created, seeing as you made it? Thank you.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I suppose I believe in the world I made as much as any writer believes in the world he or she creates—I can see it, feel it, smell it. But I certainly have no difficulties stepping outside the world in my head into the REAL world.

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  • 264

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    J. Hurt from Chicago

    First off, I absolutely love the WOT series! What I wanted to know was when you originally started writing this series what type of research, if any, did you do to create the world and storyline you have created?

    Robert Jordan

    I started writing The Eye of the World in about 1985, I guess it was. '85 or '86. It took me four years, and I had been thinking about the things that would lead into the world of the Wheel of Time about ten years before I started writing ANYTHING.

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  • 265

    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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  • 266

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Ethan Hayes from Colorado Springs, CO

    First off, I would like to compliment you on having such a wonderful series. I have one question for you, however, about being a writer. How is it that you made yourself transition from planning the series and what was going to happen in the series and building the history, etc.; into the actual creation of the first novel? How did you know when to stop planning and to start writing?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, in this particular instance, I simply reached a point where I thought I was ready to start, and in some ways I turned out to be wrong! That's why it took four years to write The Eye of the World, I realized that there were a number of things I had to work out very far in advance from what I believed.

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  • 267

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Rick from Medford, NY

    Mr. Jordan, does it ever frighten you that people ask you the most detailed questions about your series, kind of like Star Trek fanatics do with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy?

    Robert Jordan

    No, that doesn't worry me or frighten me. The only times I get worried are when people seem to believe that I am some sort of guru, and I'm not—I'm a storyteller. I write books, that's it. I tell stories.

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  • 268

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Jiri Kristek from The Czech Rep.

    Mr. Jordan How many hours per day do you approximately spend writing, and do you listen to music meanwhile or do you prefer the silence?

    Robert Jordan

    I usually write to classical music of various kinds, and occasionally Chinese or Japanese music. I like to listen to rock and to jazz, but I can't write to them. As for the number of hours, I try to do at least eight hours a day, six or seven days a week. When the schedule gets very hectic, that can grow to twelve hours a day seven days a week, and no time off.

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  • 269

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Emily from San Jose

    If you could choose any one element from your series to bring into the 'real world', what would it be? Use of the One Power? Tel'aran'rhiod? Something else?

    Robert Jordan

    I don't think that I would bring anything from my world into the real world. They're all very wonderful things, I believe, but taken all in all, they make the world much too interesting for comfort. And the world we live in is awfully darned interesting, and sometimes awfully uncomfortable, as it is.

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  • 270

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Eric from Cleveland

    Mr. Jordan, do you have to reread your books often in order to remind yourself of everything you have done and still need to do, or do you just look back at notes as a basic reminder? Thanks.

    Robert Jordan

    Sometimes I have to look back at the books themselves, but primarily that is to make sure that I remember for example, exactly what someone said to someone else, I don't need to remind myself of the story or what has happened. I sometimes do have to check on small details.

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  • 271

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Kevin from Dallas, Tx

    Just want to say I really love the books. I am currently rereading them before I read Winter's Heart. I hope I don't break down and read Winter's Heart before I have reread the whole series. It always keeps the sub plots in mind. Now the question. Do you have anybody that reads the book that you are currently working on to make sure that the main plots and subplots are intact and that things have not been left out or added too soon?

    Robert Jordan

    That's me!

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  • 272

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Meg Young from Florida

    In a previous question you stated that it took you so long to write The Eye of the World because you realized a number of things you hadn't yet researched. What sort of things were these, and how did you survive the more tedious aspects of world-building (i.e., lists of government official names, lists of cities and their major imports and exports, etc.)?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, the tedious bits were quite easy, and it wasn't so much a matter of research I hadn't done as things that needed to be worked out—which I thought could wait until later because they were not going to come into the books until later. But I realized once I began writing that I had to realize how those things worked and fit together NOW, because that would affect how things happened in that first book.

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  • 273

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Juris Koren from Sigil

    When you started writing WoT—or even after the first couple of books were published—did you ever expect the public reaction that WoT has received? All the popularity and fanfare and such? Or were you just sort-of writing for you and if it was well-received, fine; if not, fine?

    Robert Jordan

    I was writing for myself. I never expected any of this.

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  • 274

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Jacob from California

    First off, major compliments for sharing your beautiful creation with us. Second off, how do you come up with your characters'/cities' names? Most of the names do not sound like traditional fantasy names, did you do this conciously in order to create a work that was not like the 'norm'?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. I didn't want to simply copy what's gone before. There are some things that are reminiscent, certainly, and I can't say that every name is unlike what might be called "traditional fantasy names," but I definitely wanted names that were different.

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  • 275

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Jenn703

    Mr. Jordan, do you ever find yourself "corrupted" by the ideas put forth in such places as on the FAQ?

    Robert Jordan

    No I rarely go online. Occasionally I look at a website, but I'm writing my story for me. Not to please everybody else. :)

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  • 276

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    LadyJ

    Mr. Jordan, are you as into writing and telling us this story as you were when you started the series?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. Every bit. I don't take time to do much else. In large part because I enjoy the story.

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  • 277

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    LadyJ

    Mr. Jordan, How do you keep track of all the sub-plots and names and lives? Do you have a room decorated with color-coded index cards?

    Robert Jordan

    I keep track of them in my head. I have some files if I need them. And I have many cultural files. But the story and the lives are all in my head.

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  • 278

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Crysa

    I was wondering if there have been any other authors approach you about writing other ages, such as the Age of Legends or Hawkwing's time? If they did, would you allow it?

    Robert Jordan

    I've never been approached. And no, I wouldn't. When I'm done I'll move on to another Universe.

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  • 279

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Akira

    Mr. Jordan, do you have any advice for aspiring fantasy writers (such as myself)?

    Robert Jordan

    Write. When you've written something send it out. As soon as it's in the mail write more. Never stop writing and never stop sending material out. Write and keep writing. And keep trying to get published. If a story is on the shelf it isn't writing. Whatever you've written isn't complete without a reader.

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  • 280

    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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  • 281

    Interview: Nov 14th, 2000

    SciFi.com Chat (Verbatim)

    Alystrial

    Mr. Jordan, I know that this series has been your life's work, and great work it is. What I would like to know is how old were you when your had you first "insight" to or for the series, and what inspired you to write the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    I guess I began thinking about what would become the series in my 20s and that was a long time ago. I spent ten years juggling things in my head before I even tried writing it down.

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  • 282

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    How did you begin writing?

    Robert Jordan

    From the age of five I intended to write, one day. When I had established myself in a more stable profession. Then I had an accident that resulted in a month's stay in the hospital, during which I almost died, and I decided life was too short to wait on 'one day'. So I started writing.

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  • 283

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    What attracted you to writing fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    I think that, in large part, I was led to fantasy because in fantasy it is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face. In so much else of literature, everything has begun to be rendered in shades of gray. It isn't that I don't believe there are gray areas, morally and ethically, but not everything is murky.

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  • 284

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    What differences do you think there are between writing mainstream and fantasy fiction?

    Robert Jordan

    None, really. In truth, given the appearance in more and more mainstream literature of ghosts, telepathy, the past impinging on the present, and other things that should be called fantasy, there is much less difference than, say, fifty years ago.

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  • 285

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    With so many plot strands now running through The Wheel of Time, will all of them be resolved at the very end or will there be some surprising conclusions earlier on?

    Robert Jordan

    Some plot lines will be resolved before the end, but all of the major plot lines will be resolved by the end. On the other hand, some minor plot lines will not be resolved. In fact, in the last scene of the last book, I intend to set a small hook for what some may see as future books. But I will walk away and not look back. One thing that has irritated me with some books is that, come the end, all of the characters' problems are solved, all of the world's problems are solved, and you might well sit the whole place on a shelf and put a bell-jar over it to keep the dust off. When I finish the Wheel of Time, I hope to leave the reader feeling that this world is still chugging along out there somewhere, still alive and kicking.

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  • 286

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    dawntreader

    Why does it take you about a year to two years to issue the next book?

    Robert Jordan

    Because it takes that long to write it. The earlier books also took a long time, but what was happening there was that the usual space between handing in the manuscript and the book being published, was shrinking in my case. Normally that is nine months to a year. For my last four books, however it has been two months from me handing in the manuscript to me being on tour.

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  • 287

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    RawShock

    What got you into writing fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    Fantasy is an area where it is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face. In mainstream fiction and even in a good deal of mystery, these things are presented as simply two sides of the same coin. Never really more than a matter of where you happen to be standing. I think quite often it's hard to tell the difference. I think that quite often you can only find a choice between bad and worse. But I think it's worth making the effort and I like to expose my characters to that sort of situation.

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  • 288

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    El-Loko

    Did you have the entire storyline, bar a few details, before you even started writing Book One?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. There were a good many details I didn't have, but the story line, the major events; those were all in my head. I could have written the last scene of the last book more than 15 years ago. And what happens in that scene would not be any different from what I intend to happen now.

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  • 289

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Moderator

    Has this saga taken on a life of its own over the years?

    Robert Jordan

    I am not sure what you mean. If you are talking about the claim by some writers that characters take on a life of their own and begin writing the story then, No. I created the story. I created these characters, and I am an Old Testament God with my fist in the middle of their lives. The characters do what I want. The story goes where I want.

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  • 290

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Almindhra

    Do you think literary critics take you seriously as a good writer despite your writing of fantasy?

    Robert Jordan

    Some do, and some don't. That's the way it always works. But I would like to add there is a lot of fantasy out there that does not call itself fantasy. The magic realists are fantasists. (A.S) Byatt is a fantasist. A good many mainstream literary writers are fantasists. So maybe the critics won't put things down, just because they are fantasy, quite as readily as they once did.

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  • 291

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    GH

    Mr. Jordan, what are the most crazy reactions you have received from your fans?

    Robert Jordan

    I suppose it's the people who believe that I am telling them the absolute truth: that there is a thing called channeling, and that I can teach them how to do it. I'm not a guru. I'm not a sage. I'm not a teacher. I am just a storyteller.

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  • 292

    Interview: Dec 12th, 2000

    CNN Chat (Verbatim)

    Moderator

    What do you want readers to see in your books?

    Robert Jordan

    A good story.

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  • 293

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    How do you keep all the characters and plot lines that you have come up with straight?

    Robert Jordan

    The plot lines are in my head. I have lots of notes on the characters on my computer. Notes on the various countries, the cultures, the organizations, that sort of thing, the history of the world. On flora and fauna. All of that.

    SFBC

    That must be exhaustive.

    Robert Jordan

    They're fairly large files. The largest are the Aes Sedai files, there are two of those. One lists every Aes Sedai that I have mentioned in the books and some that I haven't, with everything I know about her. These are normally the things that have been mentioned in the books, but other things that may never be mentioned that give me a picture of this character. And there's another file that covers the history of the White Tower, the laws, the customs, political organization, how the Hall of the Tower works, organization of the Ajahs, recruiting, training, all of those things. Tower grounds.

    SFBC

    Are there any plans for The Wheel of Time encyclopedia?

    Robert Jordan

    Perhaps after I finish, but I have to tell you, just the file on the Aes Sedai is about, oh, it's now just getting to be too big to put on a 1.44 floppy... And the same with the one on the Tower, so I'm very glad I have an LS120 drive. The other files are not that big. I might do something, a concordance or encyclopedia when the series is done, so it can be complete, but I don't know.

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  • 294

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    Someone mentioned to me that your wife is your editor?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, she is.

    SFBC

    What's that like?

    Robert Jordan

    Interesting. She's very good. I think she's one of the best editors in the business, and luckily, she's been willing to keep editing me, although she's given everybody else up.

    SFBC

    She plays a really big part in keeping track of all your plot lines and characters?

    Robert Jordan

    No, no. I do that myself, but she's the first set of eyes. An editor—the first thing an editor does is tell you when you've failed. When you've failed to convince her that this person would say or do this thing. An editor is the person who goes in there and says, "You've told me more about this than you need to." Or, "here you didn't convince me." She has a wonderful instinct for it and for the whole rest of the editorial job, of course.

    SFBC

    I was looking through the manuscript and noticed the words "Revision 5" and so forth.

    Robert Jordan

    That's before it ever gets to her. When I make what I consider a major change in a chapter, I notch up the revision once. Not for small changes, but if you have a manuscript there, you'll notice that the revisions numbers get to be less as they go further into the book. That's because I am constantly re-writing, constantly thinking of a way I can do something better earlier on. I often go back and re-write things that I've done earlier.

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  • 295

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    What subjects interest you the most?

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, Lord. Almost anything. Half the books I read are nonfiction and it can be about anything under the sun. I'm just finishing up a book called Strange Victory, which is about the German defeat of France in 1940. What's fascinating about that is why it happened, because as the author points out, any time computers are allowed to run that scenario—the German invasion, the French defense—the French always win. The French had more tanks and the tanks were just as good. They had more men and the men were just as well trained. They had as many airplanes. Their airplanes were as good.

    But what happened was, the French did a couple of things that were very wrong. One, they had a high dependence on advanced technology and the arrogance, if you will, that comes from that, that says that technology will win for us.

    SFBC

    And they were relying on that?

    Robert Jordan

    They relied on that, and the second thing that happened was that because they had suffered tremendous casualties in World War I, they were very reluctant to suffer casualties again. The politicians were and the country was. And the third thing was that because of the reluctance to suffer casualties, they made all of the decisions be reviewed in Paris. So they had a slow decision-making cycle. If you put those together, does it give you an image of anybody else in the world right now, maybe?

    Anyway, the next book up is called The Code Book, and it's about development of codes and ciphers throughout history. As I said, I read about anything and everything... Whatever catches my eye.

    SFBC

    Does this wide range of interest also help in the development of your cultures and the incredible texture of the history in your books?

    Robert Jordan

    I think it does. History fascinates me. I read a lot of history, and I suppose what you might call cultural anthropology, also fascinates me. I like to read about other cultures. Specifically, not just about cultures now, but historically. You find surprising things.

    SFBC

    Past kingdoms?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, it's that, and more. Well, I'm reading a travel book about China that was written in the 1870s. Travel books at that time often told you everything about a culture that the writer could find out. I discovered that block watches, public self-confession, are very old traditions. If you were accused of something, you were expected to come forward and make a confession before your neighbors of what you had done wrong. And the large character wall posters, things that we think of as being modern and part of the Communist regime, are really very old.

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  • 296

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    Considering some of the cultures that you've come up with in your books, like the Seanchan, or the Aiel, even the building up of their history, are there any real world equivalents to them?

    Robert Jordan

    Not one-to-one. Not for any given cultures. Well, the Aiel for instance, there are bits of Berber and Bedouin cultures. Zulu. Some things from the Japanese historical cultures. From the Apache Indians. Also from the Cheyenne. I put these things together and added in some things that I also wanted to be true about the culture beyond these real cultures.

    Then I began to figure out if these things were true, what else had to be true and what things could not be true. That can be very simple. If you have a culture living in a land where water is scarce, well, obviously they value water. It's necessary for human survival. On the other hand, if they live in the middle of a waterless waste, dealing with crossing rivers or lakes is going to be difficult for them. They don't know how.

    SFBC

    It makes perfect sense.

    ROBERT JORDAN

    Those are two very simple and obvious points, but you put together a lot of things like that and you begin to get an image of what the culture is like.

    SFBC

    Even the way you have these characters talking about people who live with a lot of water, calling them "wetlanders" and so forth is very interesting. The concept of the "World of Dreams," Tel'aran'rhiod—when did you dream that up?

    ROBERT JORDAN

    I'm not sure of when that exactly came to me. I'm not certain if I could point to a source, because I cannot remember anything of that sort. It's quite possible that I read about something, some myth or legend somewhere that included this, but by the time I began writing, I had the concept of Tel'aran'rhiod quite solidified, you might say.

    SFBC

    And the concept of the Source and the True Source, the male half, the female half—when did you come up with that?

    ROBERT JORDAN

    Again, I can't point ... I thought about what I was going to write for quite a long time. The first thoughts that would turn into The Wheel of Time, I had perhaps ten years before I began writing. And after the ten years, I realized I had a story.

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  • 297

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    I read somewhere that The Wheel of Time series has been described as Tolkien-esque ...was this intentional?

    Robert Jordan

    In the beginning, I wanted a little bit—at the beginning of The Eye of the World, I wanted a little bit of a Tolkien-esque feel. For perhaps the first 100 pages, I wanted to have that feel simply to establish that this is the foundation. Tolkien began so much of modern fantasy. Not all of it comes from him certainly, but The Lord of the Rings is this huge mountain casting a shadow over everything. Then, having said this is what you expect and this is the familiar ground, now, kiddies, we're going someplace else.

    SFBC

    You'd better believe it. I was expecting a certain thing in The Eye of the World, and then you started showing the way people use magic, something Tolkien never did. You blew our minds with even Rand destroying cities....Do you see these things in your head? Do you envision them?

    Robert Jordan

    I do. I assume everybody has a large visual component of their thoughts, where you visualize a scene or how things are working out. Our thoughts are not like reading a page. We don't see words in our heads to describe a scene. We see the scene and describe what we're seeing.

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  • 298

    Interview: Jan, 2001

    SFBC

    If you had to pick three characters in your books, who would be your favorites?

    Robert Jordan

    I can't pick three characters who are my favorites because my favorite is always whoever I am writing at the moment; that is, whoever is the point of view character for any given scene, I like that person and I like that person more than anyone else. I think that's a very basic human emotion. We like ourselves. And the reason that sacrificing yourself for someone else is such a big thing is because we do like ourselves very strongly. Now, if I don't like that character that I'm writing more than I like any of the others, then the character doesn't come out as being real.

    There's something tainted in the writing. Something false.

    SFBC

    That's an excellent point.

    Robert Jordan

    Because I'm trying to get inside that character's skin, inside their head while I'm doing it. My wife will surprise the devil out of me. I'll come into the house with the day's writing, and before I've even said a word, she'll say to me, "Oh, you've been writing Padan Fain today, haven't you?"

    And what's really frightening about it is one, I haven't said a word, and two, that even if it wasn't Padan Fain, it was somebody else that you really don't want to be alone with.

    SFBC

    That's really giving some life to the characters.

    Robert Jordan

    That's what I try to do. I think the characters are the most important part. The story flows from character. That's something I've always believed. If your characters are not as real as you can make them, then everything else begins to fall apart.

    SFBC

    By doing it that way, it gives your work a three-dimensional quality that makes it seems like if anything happens to a certain character, the reader feels, "oh, no, this isn't fair!"

    Robert Jordan

    Thank you.

    SFBC

    I have to say that one of my personal favorites is Nynaeve.

    ROBERT JORDAN

    Well, a lot of people like Nynaeve. I've noticed something interesting over the years about Nynaeve. I have had a number of women tell me how much they dislike Nynaeve. But what's interesting is that when I talk with other people who know a woman who's told me how much she dislikes Nynaeve, it turns out that she, herself, is a lot like Nynaeve. What this means, I have no idea.

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  • 299

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    From your biography, I did a lot searching on the internet, there are lots of books about you...that you can't remember the timelines exactly.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, no, I can remember the time. The timelines? [sounding very surprised]

    Question

    Yes, or is it all in your head?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, it's in my head. Ah, I was about eh,... critical method flowpath charts. For the books...by some engineers, it seemed to be obviously necessary that ... but ... the flowpath charts were too complex to do on the computer. I finally figured out that doing the setup on the computer for the flowpath charts, which would have to be three-dimensional, at the very least, for the books, would take at least as long as writing one of the books, so it was easier to put it in my head, where I could at least have a better zoom facility than I could possibly have, ... a better resolution than on a computer screen.

    Question

    So you in your head you have a better capacity, you think, than on a computer?

    Robert Jordan

    Yeah, for my books that is, at least...

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  • 300

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    I myself am a great fantasy lover, read Feist, Pratchett, Goodkind. Why should I read Jordan?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I think I tell a good story, about people you will believe in. And... sometimes people you will recognize. It's eh... It's hard for a writer to produce characters people care about. I think that I have managed to write characters that people care about. They want to know what's going to happen with this person or that person.

    Question

    And that's what's so good about WoT?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, to some extent. There's more than that. I happen to think that they are good books.

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  • 301

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    You're using many different nicknames and pseudonyms. You write under Reagan O'Neill—fiction, Jackson O'Reilly—Westerns, Chang Lung ... why all those different names?

    Robert Jordan

    So people will know what they're getting. If you see something by Jackson O'Reilly you know not to expect a fantasy, you know that that's a Western book. Although now my publisher is mixing that up. He's reissued some of my old books: 'Robert Jordan writing as'. And I made them agree that they could only do this if they put the original pen name on the cover in letters as large as they use for Robert Jordan.

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  • 302

    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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  • 303

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Question

    Did you post that "Answer" post at Theoryland? Or have you ever posted a message at a messageboard?

    Robert Jordan

    Not quite answer (to another question): "I hardly ever look at the sites about WOT. If I sit behind my computer, I do what I like most there: I write."

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  • 304

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    When he writes he prefers not to read any fantasy as it distracts him; he starts editing other people's work. When he reads fantasy he likes books by: J.V. Jones, Robert Holdstock, Terry Pratchett, etc.

    Before he started writing The Wheel of Time series he has written Conan nooks, a Romance novel, a Western novel and even ballet reviews (and much, much more...). One of the questions asked by the public was why he often repeats a lot of stuff in a very detailed way. Jordan said, "I hate minimalism. It is cheap. I write very cinematically. I want to paint a picture and when characters are involved I want to be sure the reader knows who it is."

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  • 305

    Interview: 2002

    Robert Jordan

    If you want to be a writer, go be an accountant. If you want to write, write.

    I know a lot of people who want to be a writer, and it's a very different thing from wanting to write.

    It doesn't do any good to think about writing. It doesn't do any good to talk about writing. It doesn't do any good to go to cafés and sit there in your black turtle neck sweater with a coffee or beer and impress the girls with the fact that you are a writer, if what you have is the same three chapters sitting in a drawer that have been there for the last five years.

    You write. You send it to a publisher. And when you've put it in the mail, you start writing again.

    You send it to a publisher because the act of creation is not complete until you have an observer. It doesn't matter whether it's writing, or painting, or sculpting. If a painter sticks a painting in a closet, if a sculptor throws a drop cloth over the sculpture, the act of creation is not complete. Completion happens when you put it in front of an observer.

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  • 306

    Interview: 2002

    Robert Jordan

    I don't think so many people want to write—I think people want to be writers. Dorothy Parker said, 'I love having written, but I hate writing.' I think it's the same with a lot of people. And everybody believes that they have a story in them—everyone wants to believe that they could do it if they wanted to.

    They think they have a story, and maybe they do. But just because you have a story inside you, doesn't mean you can write it, any more than having a gallstone means you can pass it. I no longer believe that everybody can write. It's not that easy.

    When parents ask me how they can encourage little Johnny's talent for writing, I say that no good writer had a Norman Rockwell childhood. It's a truthful answer. I look at all the good writers I know personally, the good painters, the good sculptors, and they all had unquiet, even unpleasant childhoods. I say, 'Look. I can't guarantee this won't turn your child into a psychotic—but the psychotic may be a writer.'

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  • 307

    Interview: 2002

    Robert Jordan

    I learned to read when I was four. My parents would go out to gatherings of friends. Two, three or sometimes four nights a week there would be—I hesitate to call it a party—music and dancing, that was it.

    My 16-year-old brother was sometimes stuck with babysitting the brat. He wanted to keep my hands out of his goldfish bowl and his terrarium, and keep my hands off his balsa wood planes. And he found that if he read to me and moved his finger along the line, I would sit beside him and stare at the page.

    Now he was not about to read children's books: he was reading me fairly adult novels. I don't know when I made the connection between the words he was saying and the symbols on the page. But one night my parents came home, he stuck the book back on the shelf, and I wanted more. So I pulled the book down and struggled through to the end. 'White Fang': that was the first book I ever read, if you want to call it reading. I did get a sense of the story.

    When my brother found out that I could do this, he started to supply me with books because that would keep me quiet. When he got guilty about letting me take books off my parents' shelves, he would bring me a book for a 10- or 12-year-old. My great uncles also supplied me with books, so I had a great clutch of pre-World War I boys' books.

    I did think about writing when I was very little. But writers didn't seem to make a living in the United States as writers. All sorts of fellows wrote books but they all had something else they did for the money. That's the way it seemed. And those who did, lived in Cuba or the South of France or Italy. I might have been precocious but I wasn't so sure about moving to Italy. . .

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  • 308

    Interview: 2002

    Robert Jordan

    Essentially I stayed in Vietnam until it was time to get out of the army. Then I went back to school and got my degrees: a Bachelor of Science in maths and one in physics.

    I had everything lined up to go to graduate school for a doctorate in quantum optics: I was very interested in theoretical physics. But I was tired of school, and I wanted to get on with my life. The government at this point was recruiting engineers, physicists and others, who they then sent to a school to study nuclear engineering. So I became an engineer, and for a long time I designed procedures to test and overhaul reactors on United States naval vessels.

    I had always said, 'One day I will write.' Then when I was 30 I was walking back from a dry dock to my office, and I had a fall and tore up my knee very severely. There were complications in the surgery, I nearly died, I spent a month in the hospital, and I spent three and a half months recuperating before I could walk well enough to go back to the office. During that time I reached burnout in reading. I remember picking up a book by an author I knew I liked, reading a few paragraphs and tossing it across the room and saying, 'Oh God, I could do better than that.' Then I thought, 'All right son, it's time to put up or shut up.'

    And so I wrote my first novel. It has never been published although it's been bought by two publishers, and a lot of good came out of it, including meeting my wife.

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  • 309

    Interview: 2002

    Robert Jordan

    I finished the novel within three and a half months, writing longhand on legal yellow pads. When I went back to work I typed it up in the evenings and made the changes, and sent it off to a publisher. The best I was hoping for was a letter saying, 'Not quite good enough but if you work at it you can get there.' I was very surprised to get an enthusiastic letter back offering to buy the novel. Then I tried to negotiate some minor points of the contract—I didn't have an agent—and I was equally shocked to get a letter back withdrawing the offer. (The publisher believed that a beginning writer should not quibble.)

    It didn't matter, because I decided I would ignore the second letter. The first letter said I could write. There were things happening at work that I found very irritating. So I cleared my desk and I completed every project in the pipeline, and I laid down my resignation. 'You can't go!' I said, 'Read the resignation. I'm going.' I was told, 'If you do this, you'll never work for the United States government again.' I said, 'Could I have that in writing?'

    My wife once said to me—when I'd been writing for ten or fifteen years—that I could always go back to being a nuclear engineer. And I said to her, 'Harriet, would you let someone who quit his job to go write fantasy anywhere near your nuclear reactor? I wouldn't!'

    I leaped right into writing, and I know a lot of writers who have done that. Other people need to develop the facility.

    I know as many different ways of writing as I know writers. To develop your own way of writing, read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Especially read what you want to write, and write what you like to read. . . because if you don't like to read it, you won't be able to write it.

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  • 310

    Interview: 2002

    I knew from the beginning how the story of 'The Wheel of Time' started, and I knew the last scene of the last book, I knew major scenes along the way, and I knew how I wanted my major characters to end up. But I underestimated the time it would take me to write the story, or overestimated how densely I could write. In the beginning I really thought I could do it in four or five books. By the end of the third I knew there wasn't a chance of finishing the story in six books, which led to confusion among fans. 'Oh you promised it would be finished in six!' They would like to have completion, and so would I.

    On the computer are about two megabytes of notes on individual Aes Sedai, another two megabytes or so notes about Aes Sedai organization, the structure, the laws, the customs, their sexual relations. But the story itself is all up here in my head.

    A lot of people are as fascinated with the individual characters as they are with the story. They talk to me about the characters as if they are people they know. I've tried to make them seem like real people—they're not perfect, they lie to one another sometimes, they try to put the best face on things even with friends. I've tried to make the world seem a place solid enough for people to visualize, not just a backdrop for the characters.

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  • 311

    Interview: 2002

    Robert Jordan

    As soon as I realized I was going to be writing a lot from inside a woman's head, I wanted to write women that women thought were women. I thought getting myself into a woman's skin would be the hard thing.

    Certainly I talk to my wife: she's my editor as well as my wife, so she's intimate with the books. Sometimes I'll ask her, 'Do you think this character would behave in this fashion?' I also read books written by women for women, I read magazines, and I eavesdrop on women sometimes. It's a low trick but it's the only way to find out how women talk when men aren't around.

    One of the best compliments I got was very early, when I was touring for the 'Dragon Reborn'. Some women said that until they saw me they believed Robert Jordan was the pen name of a woman. I thought, 'All right, I did it!'

    I've tried to write in layers. In addition I've tried to write each book so that every time you read it, you're standing in a different place, you're reading a slightly different book. And when you read the third book it shifts your position again. Things you thought were innocuous are important, and things you thought meant one thing, meant another.

    Even if you do it unconsciously, you have to refer to religion if you're writing fantasy. You're stepping into the realm of the supernatural and so you're stepping into the realm of religion.

    A few years ago I found myself thrown into the company of theoretical physicists on panels. I thought, 'I'm not going to be able to talk with these men because my knowledge of this field is 25 years out of date.' But I found that I could hold my own not by talking physics but by talking theology.

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  • 312

    Interview: 2002

    One of my themes is (and it's one reason I wrote the books as fantasies) there is good, there is evil, there is right, there is wrong—lit does exist. If you do that in a mainstream novel you are accused of being judgmental unless you've chosen the right political viewpoint.

    Maybe it's not always easy to tell which is the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do. 'Good and evil—but relative to what?' This deconstructionism irritates the devil out of me. Situational ethics began as a way of making fine moral choices, but it's become this monster in so many people's minds: it now means there is no right, there is no wrong. 'Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.' That really doesn't work unless you intend to carry a gun all the time.

    What I believe goes into my stories. I'm not trying to preach. I believe these things, but I'm trying to tell stories. All my characters of course believe things I don't believe.

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  • 313

    Interview: 2002

    Robert Jordan

    To write, you have to have discipline. The discipline can vary. It depends on what other job you have. If you say, 'I'm going to write one hour a day seven days a week,' that's enough if you have another job. It's a commitment.

    Maybe you'll say, 'I'm going to write one page that every day that I'm satisfied with. If I knock it out in ten minutes, I'll quit. If I have to sit there half a night, I'll stay with it.' If you do that, at the end of a year you've got 365 pages of manuscript and that is not a fat novel, but it's a novel.

    For me, I write seven days a week, 8-10 hours a day, sometimes more. This is how I make my living. I don't have to go off to an office or a factory.

    If my wife wants us to go somewhere for a day, that's fine. But there've been times when she's actually brought me down to the front porch where I've found a fishing guide waiting. She'll say, 'The man has already been paid to take you fishing. Go get in his truck. Go!'

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  • 314

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Aan'allein

    The first thing I heard when I came in was a question about how he researched things.

    Robert Jordan

    He talked about Perrin making that barrelstave in The Dragon Reborn, said that he'd done a lot of research into 18th- and 19th-century blacksmithing (and couldn't find anything from before). Then he wrote the first version and sent it to a blacksmith, who gave a lot of useful critique.

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  • 315

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    As answer to a question about his other writings, he mentioned once ghostwriting a *ponders* To my shame I must say I don't recall what he said. Either a mystery, a ghost-story, or a horror-novel I think... something in that direction anyway. It wasn't something I'd heard before. Westerns, historical novels, even the dance critiques, they're all known, but this was new to me.

    Aan'allein

    (You do all know what ghostwriting is? Somebody has a great idea for a book, but lacks the time or skill or whatever to actually write it. So a ghostwriter is brought in to write the book under the first person's name.)

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  • 316

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Question

    How many times does Jordan rewrite each chapter?

    Robert Jordan

    As many times as needed. Each time he makes a major change, he saves the file with a new revision number. For Winter's Heart, the prologue had 97 revisions. This was by far the largest amount, most chapters only have nine or ten revisions.

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  • 317

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Question

    Does he use books to fix things from earlier books? (Clearly asking about the Shaido's attack at Dumai's Wells, although I'm not sure Jordan realized this.)

    Robert Jordan

    No, he doesn't. He sometimes tries to clear up misconceptions that people have gotten. (He does admit that there have been times that he has made mistakes [put down a wrong eye-color (probably a reference to the Faile/Moiraine gaze at Perrin in The Dragon Reborn) / blinked and missed an editor's typo], but this is not what he's talking about.)

    But he does try to use things that have been there a long time, and he likes to plant seeds, so that things don't fall out of the blue sky (the major reason I love WoT so much). Giving us the little tidbits of information that don't mean anything now, but that in three books will come around again. The question about how many of these seeds there are got RAFOd.

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  • 318

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Question

    Is Jordan's writing emotional or mechanical? Does he sometimes find it 'boring', wishes he could hurry it up, knowing where this or that will be going?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it's not mechanical, he has a lot of fun writing, trying to get into the heads of his characters.

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  • 319

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    The standard 'Harriet saying you've been writing Padan Fain again, haven't you?' anecdote came along. [Now I remember that the character he mentioned actually writing was Semirhage.]

    He again mentioned the list of writers: Holdstock, Powers, Ford, Friedman, Jones.

    He likes George R.R. Martin's books, gave him a quote for his first book.

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  • 320

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    He begins to realize more things about a character as he writes it. The major characters were in his head from the beginning, the secondary level and even most of the tertiary characters as well. The minor characters you'll only see for a page or two are however often invented on the spot.

    Question

    So you don't consider Shaidar Haran a major character?

    Robert Jordan

    Ah, oh yes, he's a major character. Definitely a major player.

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  • 321

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Question

    Don't you get totally absorbed in the books when writing them?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I do... It's getting absorbed in the work, really, rather than getting absorbed in the world. I focus. When I used to play football, American football, we were calling it 'in the zone'. It's a total focus, so that eh... In football, American football, everybody else is suddenly moving half a step slower, almost as in slow motion. Peripheral vision extends. I can see facial twitches. I know who has the ball. I mean, I can see him, it's almost as if a faint glow comes up, but I can't hear the crowd. It's all dead silence, but I can hear the other players breathing, and ... it's a very strange situation.

    You get in the zone with the writing and here I am at my desk. My computer, the monitor. And here is a window looking into the side-garden [waving to the left], and over there [waving to the right] is a glass-paint door, looking into the long-garden behind our house.

    Now we have had heavy rainstorms and windstorms that drenched everything, that broke branches, were beating bamboo against this window [the left], there had to be bamboo hitting against this window, had broken branches down on the driveway over there [the right]. [...] and he never noticed any of it when in the zone with writing.

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  • 322

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    As of right now, what are your plans for supplemental books? Could you give us your plans in regards to the upcoming short novels, a second Illustrated Guide, etc.? Do you have any plans on when you might release them in relation to the upcoming books?

    Robert Jordan

    The first short novel is to be an expansion, or rather, re-writing, of New Spring. I had to crop and compress in order to fit the story that I wanted to tell into the required space for a novella, but this time, I intend to simply do it without regard to length. That isn't to say that it will be the length of the books in The Wheel of Time. I expect it to be about sixty thousand words, give or take. The other two short novels will be centered around two other events before the main story that I've often been asked about. How did Tam al'Thor end up back in the Two Rivers with his wife and the child, Rand? And, how did Moiraine arrive in the Two Rivers just in the nick? The intention is to release them in between the larger books of The Wheel.

    As for supplemental books, the only thing I intend at present is a sort of Encyclopedia Wotiana based on the list I have giving every created word, every name, place, term, etc. That, of course, won't come until the cycle is completed. There wouldn't be any point doing it earlier. I won't say that there will never be anything else, because never has a way of coming back to bite you on the ankle. I once said that I would never do a prequel, yet that's what these short novels are, prequels, but I don't have any other plans. At present, anyway. And if anybody has any suggestions, please keep them to yourself. I am trying to move on, folks.

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  • 323

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    Do you ever use ideas that fans send in to you in regards to the WOT storyline? Even little ones?

    Robert Jordan

    No. Not even the little ones. It's my story, guys. If you have ideas, write your own stories.

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  • 324

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    There is definitely a change in pace from the earlier books to the later ones. Does this reflect a change in style over the last decade, a change in the story's pacing, or something else? What would you say to the critics out there who think you've been doing this just to stretch the series out longer?

    Robert Jordan

    In the beginning, I was writing about a very few characters, relatively speaking, on a relatively constricted stage. They were, for the most part, people with very small experience and a very small world view. From the start I expected this to spread out to cover more people over a much wider stage, and for the characters to expand their world view. Nobody is a kid from the sticks any more! Plus which, a little time has to be spent on some side characters, and what might be considered side plots, because they are important to the development of the main plot lines, keys to why things happen in the way that they do. Writing it any other way would require what seems to me to be entirely too much deus ex machina. The things I want to happen not only have to happen, they have to happen in a way that is believable.

    In each book, there was has been a widening of scope over the previous books, though I am beginning to narrow it down once again. To some extent, anyway. And, no, I am not trying to stretch it out. I have had the same difficulty with every book from the very beginning. Namely, I could not put into it the amount of the story that I wanted to. Believe me, I will finish WHEEL in as few books as I can while telling the story I want to tell. After all, this is a multi-volume novel. When you set out to run a marathon, it's twenty-six miles and change. Getting a good time over fifteen or twenty miles doesn't mean a thing. You have to reach the finish line, or you might as well not have started. I'd like to finish this race.

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  • 325

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    You have a very solid international fan base. When the books are translated, do you ever worry that maybe some of the story might be lost in translation?

    Robert Jordan

    Not really. The possibility of something being lost in translation is always there, and I have been told by some foreign readers that they buy the English language versions because the translation in their language is terrible. Then again, I've been told that some translations are excellent. And there are always the difficulties of conveying the author's intent versus a literal translation, and difference of meaning or nuance in some phrases from language to language, not to mention colloquialisms, Southernisms, invented words and the like. Worrying too hard about matters over which you have no control will earn you stomach ulcers, but it won't change a thing, so I smile when I hear of a good translation, and when I hear of a bad one, I go look at the goldfish and smoke a pipe.

    Question

    Do you read the translated versions at all (assuming you are fluent in those languages>?

    Robert Jordan

    Lord, no! I would if I could, but my French and my Spanish are far too atrophied to be of any use, and I couldn't begin in the rest.

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  • 326

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    Do current events and world politics, such as the tragedy on September 11th, ever end up influencing the events within the books? If so, what are some examples?

    Robert Jordan

    Only by accident. Any writing is always filtered through the writer, and whatever the writer lives through always changes the filters, but I don't consciously set out to mirror current events in any way.

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  • 327

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    How has writing such a successful series changed your life? As a result of that success, how has your life changed the story and your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    I have to steal an answer from Stephen King, here. I read it in an interview with him, and his answer seemed so obvious, so right, that I said, "But, of course!" The biggest change in my life, and the best thing about having a successful series, is that now I can buy any book I want. I don't have to wait for the paperback or haunt the remainder tables or plow through the second-hand bookstores. I can just buy it. Being able to travel is great, especially when there is fishing to go with it, but being able to buy the books is bloody neat!

    As for my life changing the story: no, the story is still the story I set out to write God help me! more than fifteen years ago. My writing, of course, as distinct from the story, almost certainly has been changed by my life. No writer can be so isolated from life that what he lives through has no effect on his writing. Or if he can isolate himself, either his writing isn't worth reading or he himself is nuttier than a fruitcake! But I can't tell you how it has changed, except that I hope it has gotten better. After all this time, I would hope to God I've gotten at least a little better at it.

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  • 328

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    When you have the choice of many characters in a scene, how do you choose which character you will take the point of view from?

    Robert Jordan

    Choosing the POV character is a matter of choosing whose eyes are the best to see a scene. What do I want the reader to know in that scene? What do I want to leave them uncertain about? Since the POV character is the one whose thoughts you have access to, the easiest way to leave someone's motivations, reactions or future plans murky is to have someone else be the POV character. Or, if I want to set a certain tone, or to present events in a particular way, that influences the choice of POV character. Faile and Perrin, for example, will not see the same event in exactly the same way or react to it in the same way, nor will Min and Rand, or Nynaeve and Elayne and Egwene, or Rand and Perrin and Mat.

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  • 329

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    In a lot of ways WoT to this point could be viewed a series of trilogies—Rand coming to realize who and what he is, Rand rising to power, the Shadow striking back at Rand, and now (perhaps) we start moving toward the final showdown at Tarmon Gai'don. Is this a valid way of looking at WoT? And would this have an implication in terms of the series ending in twelve books?

    Robert Jordan

    No, it really isn't a valid way of looking at the books. From the beginning, I haven't thought in terms of trilogies, but in terms of one long novel. Longer than I had hoped, in truth. I tried from the start to structure things so that the books would not only bear re-reading, but so that re-reading a book after having read later volumes would mean that you saw what was happening in a slightly different way, yet with the first few books, I also tried to make each volume entirely self-contained (with varying degrees of success) so that anyone could pick up any book and start there. After all, I really had no way of predicting that the earlier books would remain in print, especially not all this time! Eventually, though, I decided that I could not waste time on explaining again what I had already explained. The Wheel of Time is one rather long novel. You really have to start with The Eye of the World, or you won't understand what is happening, why it is happening, or who these people are.

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  • 330

    Interview: Dec 9th, 2002

    Question

    Do you ever feel like other fantasy writers are envious of the success that WoT has attained?

    Robert Jordan

    I shouldn't think so. I mean, I'm not jealous of Stephen King, and he has a lot more success than I do. So do a number of other writers. Some people sell fewer books than you do, and some people sell more. There really isn't any point in jealousy. You just keep trying to write the best book you can. Besides, remember that Moby Dick was both a commercial and a critical flop when it was first published. Anybody want to try naming the top ten sellers of that year? I didn't think so. Of course, I hope for the longevity of MobyDick (I don't think there is a writer who doesn't!) but I trust you get the point.

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  • 331

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Question

    The first specific question for Jordan was asked why he chose to write a fantasy series, instead of going for historical novels.

    Robert Jordan

    Well, in terms of history, I see some similarity to the writing of a fantasy novel and the writing of a history novel. In both cases you are presenting a world that is totally strange and alien to the reader. And if you don't believe that, read a good novel set three hundred years ago, one that really describes the life and you'll find very little recognizable in it.

    So there is a great deal of similarity there. The major difference is that if you're writing a good historical novel you must place the historical events where they actually happened, not shift them about at your own convenience. In a fantasy novel you can shift history for your own convenience. It's a great...a great aid.

    Question

    And that's attracted you because you felt your hands free to...

    Robert Jordan

    That's, that's a part of it. Another part of it is that I felt I could discuss things writing fantasy that I couldn't discuss writing in other genres, things that I would have to...sidestep.

    There's a great deal of the struggle between good and evil. I'm trying to decide what is good, and what is evil, what's right, what is wrong, am I doing the right thing? Not by preaching; simply the characters keeping face with a situation or they're gonna make a decision; they don't know enough, don't have enough information, and they don't know what the results are going to be; oh they know what the results are gonna be and they're wrong. We'll give them that. At least wrong a lot of the times. And they have to blunder on and blunder through anyway, cause that's all there is to do.

    But if I wrote about that, if I tried to say that there is a right, there is a wrong, there is good, there is evil, it's tough to tell the difference, but you really have to make the try. ... It's worth the effort to try. If I said that in a mainstream novel, it would be laughed out of town.

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  • 332

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Question

    A question followed for Jordan, asking if he considered WoT his masterpiece.

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan stated that the interviewers had misinterpreted what Terry said about masterpiece, because the definition of masterpiece was not the most magnificent work. The masterpiece is the proof that you have the skills to work alone, and he considered his first novel to be that.

    The role of the editor is the first set of eyes, to tell you what you are too close to the book to see. The person who tells you that yes, you made a beautiful leg, and yes the it is perfectly, but you're ignoring the fact that it's longer than the other three legs on the table.

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  • 333

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Aan'allein

    Oh, Rando, I'm really sorry about this, but Jordan overthrew your toh-toes argument.

    Pratchett was talking about you having to take care in fantasy not to use words like 'sandwich', unless you had the sandwich guy appear in your story.

    Jordan disagreed: the writer is simply translating... And their word for a bit of unidentifiable meat wrapped in between some...two slices of greasy bread would translate as 'sandwich.' But that's not what they call it at all, that's just what you call it in English.

    Footnote

    Rando is presumably referring to Min's lame joke to Aviendha about 'toes' in Winter's Heart, 'A Lily in Winter'. His argument probably still holds, as it's something that shouldn't translate outside of an amazing coincidence.

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  • 334

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Question

    A question was asked: how afraid are you to read something a fan wrote and see that it has become part of your book?

    Terry Pratchett

    Pratchett said things about the people no longer knowing the rules of the game, about the suggestion that ideas are worth money etc.

    Aan'allein

    The talk continued in the direction of fan fiction, with Jordan talking about stacks of paper he sometimes received. Sitting there I felt certain the female Dragon debate I'd given him was doomed, but listening to this again now, I have better hopes.

    Robert Jordan

    People occasionally send me various compilations of FAQs and things of that sort they've done about the books, or analyses of the books, and I will occasionally read that if I have time, but fan fiction, or other fiction, or 'I've read this book and would you please tell me what you think of it?' or stories, it gets returned to them.

    I do not read it, I'm sorry. It's not because I think that anything is going to compete with my works, it's not, but it's because what Terry said, there are bozos out there.

    I was accused in an anonymous letter to my publisher, of plagiarizing. That The Dragon Reborn was plagiarized. Now this infuriated me to such an extent that I'm going to incredible efforts to find out who'd written the damned letter. I knew it was a nutcase bozo somewhere, because I knew that every word was ripped out of the inside of my skull. And I'm going to find him, and push him into a corner, and beat him half to death with my walking stick [laughter], because he made me that mad, that he would make this accusation against me. And this was...in an anonymous letter, who is not making any effort, he's not trying to make any money out of it, he just wants to cause trouble.

    There are guys out there who I know who said 'you know, I have this great idea' and the great idea they want to share with you is worth about as much as 'let's write a book about pilots' and the worst case is when they see something in the book and say, and they think that they can claim it was stolen from them. So I will not read fan fiction, I will not read anything that somebody sends to me. The only things I read are the books I buy.

    Aan'allein

    He ends very definite about not reading anything, but he's really only talking about fanfiction, and the first few remarks about reading analyses give me hope again.

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  • 335

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    Following very carefully, because the guy is apparently a very professional hacker, and for some reason the first six of my books, and the last the text are posted in English translation on this Russian site.

    Pratchett

    On a Russian site? [half-laughing...in a tone of uh-oh, no way to do anything about that.]

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, and I'm not the only one up there apparently, a lot of guys, and I mean, I've gone after, I've gotten shut down other sites, people who had been posting a translation in Russia and other places, what this guy is doing I don't know, except that I was cautioned to not visit the site myself, and it's not apparently as simply as saying 'stop this.' It would be quicker to get a contract with the Russia mafia. [laughter]

    Aan'allein

    This is of course (which books are up there proves it) the same site as was once posted here, which I mailed the Haydens about, thus making Jordan aware about this. Hmm, I wonder if I should mention that to Jordan. Would he even believe me? Could he perhaps be thankful enough to decide to change the way his world works so that a female Dragon would be possible? ;)

    Robert Jordan

    Jordan was very angry about such things and hackers in general. He'd like to have a virus that anyone who'd penetrate his firewall [so he really is online nowadays! not just sometimes when someone gives him a computer to take a test to see which gender he is, ;) but at home as well...and he knows the vocabulary] would get a package that would blow up his monitor for starters, to create a distraction so that the virus could continue to wipe out the hard disk and simultaneously cause power overloads to set fire to and fry every piece of electronic equipment that is attached to this computer. [laughter]

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  • 336

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Question

    If one character from Pratchett's and Jordan's worlds could come to this one, who would they like it to be?

    Robert Jordan

    The most interesting characters I write about are the ones you really don't want to meet. This is like the "what one thing would you change about the world?" that would lead to far too many unforseen consequences. So I'd say, "thank you very much, I'm going fishing that day".

    Terry Pratchett

    [lots of talk], eventually he'd really like to see Death when he was 150, because he is such a nice chap and would say to him it's been fun, hasn't it.

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  • 337

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Vanin

    Was Winter's Heart originally intended to be longer?

    Robert Jordan

    Winter's Heart was originally intended to be longer yes, but every book was intended to be longer when I started. I have always been overly optimistic about how much of the story I can put into any one book. Remember in the beginning I thought it was only going to be 4-5 books, maybe six at the most. As for emperor who thinks I am not Robert Jordan, I don't remember meeting but I do remember someone from the Dragonmount site which I think is very good.

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  • 338

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Zakath

    RJ, what is you favourite book?

    Robert Jordan

    If you mean in The Wheel of Time series: my favorite book is always the one I'm writing right now and when I'm finished with that I go to another favorite book.

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  • 339

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Munda

    What got you started on writing the Wheel of Time? Did you have a beginning and an end in mind and did the story grew while you wrote it...or what?

    Robert Jordan

    When I started writing TWOT I knew how it was going to begin and end, plus the major things I wanted to happen in the middle. I had a rough outline of the whole story.

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  • 340

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Genoveva

    Mr. Jordan, do you have a favorite character from the Wheel of Time?

    Robert Jordan

    My favorite character in TWOT is always the character from whose point of view I'm writing at the moment, whether that is Rand or Nynaeve or Semirhage.

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  • 341

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    rafelrag

    When you are writing, do you have music at the background?

    Robert Jordan

    When I am writing, I almost always have music playing—usually classical music, some jazz, and some ethnic music, primarily Japanese and African.

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  • 342

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    spellweaveruk

    Do the 'lesser' characters in the books have any real significance in driving the story forward, or are they just there for packing? I like them myself, but many on the sites seem not to. Are they there just to add a touch of relief from the main players?

    Robert Jordan

    The lesser characters usually have real significance in driving the story forward. I am not talking about someone who appears for four pages and then vanishes, but secondary and tertiary characters have real purposes.

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  • 343

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Rand

    At what age did you start to think that you were going to write books and where did you get your inspiration?

    Robert Jordan

    I knew from the age of five that I was going to write books one day and the inspirations were actually Jules Verne and Mark Twain.

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  • 344

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    The Wheel of Time has been called the best fantasy epic of all time, and you've been compared with legendary fantasist J.R.R. Tolkien. How do you deal with all this adulation?

    Robert Jordan

    I grin nervously a lot. It's very nice. But my high school football coach gave me one of the best pieces of advice that someone in my position can have. He said, "Saturday morning, you can read the newspaper and you can believe how good they say you are. Monday, when you come to practice, nobody knows your name, and you have one week to get ready for the only game you'll ever have to make a reputation." So it's very nice to look around and have people pat me on the back and say, "Oh, you're wonderful, you're great, you're tremendous," but I know the end of this. I go and sit in front of the computer, and nobody knows my name, and I have one book to try and make a reputation.

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  • 345

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Rand

    Who was the first character you came up with when you were going to write the Wheel of Time—was it Rand?

    Robert Jordan

    I can' t really say who the first character was that I came up with. I was thinking of a number of types of people and how they would work together. And they coalesced into certain characters.

    Munda

    And all the rest of the story developed while you wrote it? Wow. Amazing, and what an imagination! Hmm, I think I'm jealous.

    Robert Jordan

    It was really only the details that have developed as I write the story. The major part of it was there in my head before I began writing The Eye of the World.

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  • 346

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    One of the things that sets you apart from many other fantasy authors is your command of plot. Your stories are intricate and full of hidden puzzles. How did you learn to write like that?

    Robert Jordan

    I don't know. I read. I never took a course in writing of any sort. The only literature courses I ever took in college were required courses, since my degrees were in physics and mathematics. I never wrote anything that wasn't required until I was 30. I knew that I wanted to write one day. I knew that from the age of 5. But that was someday, after I had a stable career. And then 30 came, and I sat down and started writing. Where any of it came from, I don't know. At that point, from 30 years of reading everything I could get my hands on.

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  • 347

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    There are a lot of battles, wars, and great conflicts in your books. Did your military experiences influence that part of your writing?

    Robert Jordan

    To some extent, but mainly the thing that comes out of my experiences in the military is that I know what it's like when someone is trying to kill you. And I know that being in a battle is confusion. You know what you can see; you don't know what is happening beyond your sight. That's what comes from the military. To tell you the truth, the battles aren't nearly as interesting as the people. I like the interactions of the people—the character development, the way people play off one another.

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  • 348

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    It seems that some of your readers don't think of your novels as fantasy so much as a really fine-grained history of a world that might have existed or might yet exist. Do you perceive your world as real?

    Robert Jordan

    I think that I have to. Any writer has to try and think of his world as real, because if he thinks of it as a construct, that's going to come across to the readers. It's very much like the question I'm often asked: who is my favorite character. It's whoever I'm writing at the moment. Even someone like Padan Fain or Semirhage. Most people like themselves, and if I don't like the character I'm writing, then it's going to come across to the reader that this character doesn't like himself or herself. My wife says she can tell when I've been writing Padan Fain or somebody like that when I come into the kitchen in the evening. I make myself see this as a real place when I'm working on it. That way it comes through, I hope, that I see more than I write.

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  • 349

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    Are there particular historical eras that influence your stories?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, to give you an example of the way these things work... the Aiel. They have some bits of Japanese in them. Also some bits of the Zulu, the Berbers, the Bedouin, the Northern Cheyenne, the Apache, and some things that I added in myself. They are in no way a copy of any of these cultures, because what I do is say, "If A is true, what else has to be true about this culture? If B is true, what else has to be true?" And so forth.

    In this way I begin to construct a logic tree, and I begin to get out of this first set of maybe 10, maybe 30 things that I want to be true about this culture. I begin to get around an image of this culture, out of just this set of things, because these other things have to be true. Then you reach the interesting part, because this thing right here has to be true, because of these things up here. But, this thing right here has to be false, because of those things up there. Now, which way does it go, and why? You've just gotten one of the interesting things about the culture, one of the really interesting little quirks.

    To me, that in itself is a fascinating thing—the design of a culture. So that's how the Aiel came about. There are no cultures that are a simple lift of Renaissance Italy or 9th-century Persia or anything else. All of them are constructs.

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  • 350

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    Are there any characters in the books that are based on historical figures?

    Robert Jordan

    No. The groups are sometimes in ways based on historical organizations. The Whitecloaks have a lot of, say, Teutonic Knights. The Aes Sedai organization comes from the way convents were organized between A.D. 1000 and 1800, a time when there was real political power behind convents.

    There is one real-life individual who has contributed a lot. My wife has given me, involuntarily, at least one major character trait for all of the major female characters in the books. I'm very mean to her, I won't tell her which character traits I have taken.

    Therese Littleton

    That's probably wise.

    Robert Jordan

    As she has pointed out to me, she knows where I sleep! So I consider it wise not to upset her, if I can avoid it.

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  • 351

    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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  • 352

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    Is it ever hard for you to write?

    Robert Jordan

    No... it's hard for me not to write. I'm on tour, so I don't have time to write, but I have my computer with me because maybe I'll have time. Maybe. And the notion that I would have the time and not be able to work is horrifying.

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  • 353

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    wooga

    How come the first character you came up with isn't a 30-year-old Rand any more? When did this change?

    Robert Jordan

    The first character I came up was not a 30-year-old Rand, it was that the first version of Rand was a 30-year-old man. I changed that because I wanted the character of Rand to find everything beyond his village to be strange and new.

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  • 354

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Genoveva

    Mr. Jordan, do you weave (existing) mythology or archetypes in your books?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, I weave existing mythology into my books but I reverse engineer it rather than simply retell.

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  • 355

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    What's your writing day like?

    Robert Jordan

    Breakfast, answer the mail, answer phone calls, then sit down and start writing. I don't stop until lunch. About six or seven in the evening I quit and go in for dinner. If the book is really going hot, I might work later. It's eight or nine hours of writing, usually, and I do that seven days a week. If I decide to take a day and go fishing, since I know I don't do that very often, I don't mind doing that.

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  • 356

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    What about people who have compared your books to the Koran or the Bible?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm writing stories. I'm not creating a religion. I'm not starting a movement. I hope they're good stories and that they're entertaining people, but they're still just stories.

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  • 357

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    Are you going to take a break before starting the next book?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, when I finish this tour, I will go home and have Thanksgiving, and then I'll start writing the next book. So I'll take a short break, then start on it.

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  • 358

    Interview: Nov 6th, 1998

    Therese Littleton

    You've said before that you know where this series is going to end.

    Robert Jordan

    I've known the last scene of the last book for 15 years. I could have written it easily 15 years ago, and it would be only changes in the wording, not in what happens, from that to now.

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  • 359

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Robert Jordan

    Fantasy is the literature of hope. In fantasy there is a belief that you can make a difference. Today may be bleak, but you can live through today. And tomorrow will be better. And maybe there'll be a different darkness tomorrow, but you can live through that, too, and you can make the light come, and the darkness go away. It doesn't matter how many times the darkness comes. There is always hope for something better. I think that that is the central core running through fantasy. And having said that...I have to apologize, by the way, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I'm a bit groggy, a bit punchy. And I'm trying very hard to hold on to my thoughts and to my line of reasoning and not go off on strange and awful tangents. I think what I'm going to do now is ask who would like to ask me a question.

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  • 360

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Question

    Someone asked the regular question about the amount of books to come and why it's taking so long.

    Robert Jordan

    There are a number of storylines that I want to tell, a number of stories that I want to tell. Basically I think of this as a story of people surviving the upheaval of their culture. ... You know, when I began I knew the beginning, I knew the end and I knew certain major events that I wanted to happen in between, so that I would arrive at the proper conclusion, the conclusion of the story that I wanted to arrive at. And it simply wasn't possible to get everything in there as quickly as I thought. The people must all undergo changes. The cultures must undergo changes.

    Question

    Could it be possible that it will never end?

    Robert Jordan

    Uhm, no, there is no possibility that it will never end. I will wrap up all of the major storylines, I will wrap up some of the minor storylines. Other minor storylines will be left hanging, and I'm going to do worse than that. I am going to set a hook in the last scene of the last book, that will make some people who don't believe what I say, think that I am setting up a sequel. What I am doing, what I will be doing, is trying to leave you with a view of a world that is still alive. One hope that some fantasies have is that when you reach the end of the book, or you reach the end of the trilogy, all the characters' problems are solved. All of the things that they have been doing are neatly tied of in a bow, all of their world's problems have been solved. And there's no juice left, there's no life left. you think 'I ought to set this world on a shelf and put a bell-jar on top of it, to keep the dust off.

    When I finish the Wheel of Time, I want to do it in such a way that you will think it's still out there somewhere, people still doing things. This story has been concluded, this set of stories has been concluded, but they're still alive.

    Question

    mumble-mumble on the tape, but the answer should give you a general idea of the question.

    Robert Jordan

    No, I will not continue writing it, I will be going on to something else, and nobody else will continue writing it, because I have an automatic contract set up that if anyone tries to sharecrop in my world, their kneecaps will be brought to me. [laughter]

    Question

    What will you write next?

    Robert Jordan

    Another fantasy novel, or a set of novels. More compact, I hope. That's...I've been working on it, you might say, in the back of my head for five or six years. A different world, a different set of circumstances; different cultures, different rules, no connection really, at all, to the world ... I'm writing about now. [Heh, seems even Jordan might want to have given Randland a name in the beginning so that we could refer to it as something other than Randland.] I want to make things different. [strong] I don't like doing the same thing again. It's a trap that writers find it very easy to fall in to. Fans say, 'tell me the story again, tell me more of the story', and the writer wants to do a different story. But the fan who loves this story says, 'tell me this story again.' [loud] 'I want the story again, daddy!' [laughter] So you tell the story again. And it is very much like telling the story to your child, because if you always tell the same story when the child screams, 'tell me the story again, daddy', you find out you can never ever tell a different story, that that is the only story that will be accepted. And I won't do that. I hope you come along with me, when I go on to different stories. But if you don't, I'm still gonna write the different stories. [laughter]

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  • 361

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    W.F. Maryson

    Maryson (once again mentioning his own writing and how he does that; but I guess that was to be expected) asked about if Jordan also liked to surprise his readers.

    Robert Jordan

    I do. I like to make the reader think that he or she knows exactly where I am going, exactly where I am taking them, and they're certain that I'm taking them to that corner of the room over there, and suddenly they blink and realize that I've taken them to that corner of the room instead, and yet when they look back, they see it was all there, yes, all of it, very clear that I was taking them to that part of the room, instead of that part of the room. So, it's like... it's like making your wife think that you're taking her to Paris, but in actual fact you are taking her to Rotterdam. [laughter]

    Aan'allein

    Oh yes, Harriet was indeed there, and was there in Rotterdam (Jordan: "Somebody is rubbing my back, and I really hope that it's my wife") and Amsterdam as well.

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  • 362

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Question

    The balance between hard work versus inspiration...which does Jordan think is more important?

    Robert Jordan

    Oh, I think hard work plays a big part, I try to write at least eight hours a day...[6/7 days a week, blah blah]. Inspiration comes from hard work.

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  • 363

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Question

    Don't remember anything about the wording, but it should be clear from the answer...

    Robert Jordan

    There's a strict border between my writing and the rest of my life certainly, but the story involves itself in my head. And I continually think about it. I'm always thinking about how I'm going to structure things, how I want the flow of words to work, the rhythms and patterns of words. The difficulty is, I must...I have two rituals at night that are necessary. If I fail... The first is that I read...someone else. And I must read for several hours. And then having read for several hours, work myself from the books, I must make sure that there...for half an hour or so, I won't drift back with my thinking to my own books. So I drink a very, very large brandy...yes, 6 or 8 ounces. And just straight down. And this makes me sleepy enough that I will drift off, and that's the night.

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  • 364

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Question

    Is fantasy also disregarded in the USA?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. There is an exception in [Edward Rothstein]...he works for the New York Times, a culture editor, not a literary editor. But that's very good. He seems to understand what I'm writing about. But fantasy is by and large dismissed as less.

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  • 365

    Interview: Apr 7th, 2001

    Question

    A question about other things Jordan would want to write.

    Robert Jordan

    I have a list of the books I might want to write. I continuously add things to it. I used to keep it on paper, in a notebook...and the notebook became full. That was just basic, basic plotlines of...tho