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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.

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

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Your search for the tag 'rj's family' yielded 48 results

  • 1

    Interview: Jan, 1991

    Starlog Interview (Verbatim)

    William B. Thompson

    When Robert Jordan's parents couldn't find a babysitter, they would utilize the services of his redoubtable older brother, who read to his four-year-old sibling from a rich varied repertoire of Mark Twain, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and the like.

    The common thread was a zestful, sometimes wry imagination. And Jordan was an exceedingly quick study.

    Robert Jordan

    "It was galvanizing, better than a movie. I could visualize all of it in my head. By the time I was five, I had taught myself how to read."

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  • 2

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Daniel Rouk (18 October 1994)

    There were some really interesting collector's items to be signed. One ex-Tor representative (who says he remembers you, Patrick) had Advanced Reading Copies from The Eye of the World. The Eye of the World's and The Great Hunt's advance copies were both nicely bound with cover art on them. From The Dragon Reborn on they are bound in yellow or red construction paper. The first three advance copies seem to be single-spaced single volumes. I don't know about the others, but Lord of Chaos's advance bound copy was double-spaced and in two volumes. Another fellow had a large fold-out map that was included in one of the advance copies. It was black and white, and Jordan said it is an early copy from which the modern maps were made. I noticed attractive drawings of several places along the border. One I think was Tar Valon.

    Robert Jordan

    The recent freebie first half of The Eye of the World was the impetus that got his elder brother to read the books. Apparently his older brother doesn't read much fantasy, and hadn't read any of Jordan's books until he saw the freebie in the store and picked it up.

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  • 3

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan (18 October 1994)

    Jordan reads voraciously, a book a night. He says if he sat down for an evening's reading he could probably put away two books the size of Lord of Chaos easily. When tested in grade school he was sent to the principal because the teachers were sure he had cheated. No one could read as fast as he did with as much comprehension as he had at that age. Jordan recalls that being called to the principal didn't upset him as much as not being apologized to afterward. Apparently the library where he grew up restricted children under twelve to the kids' department. This rankled the young Jordan, who read all he wanted to from that department in two days. He thus swiped books from tables and sat in a corner to read them. His main supply of literature as a kid was through his older brother. (10 years older)

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  • 4

    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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  • 5

    Interview: Apr 3rd, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, there were a couple signings (well one, anyway) with 30 or 40 fans, and I am ashamed to say it was a blessing. I can remember when 30-40 fans made me grin with pleasure, but after signings with 200-300 people, each with 3 or 4 books, and a tight schedule to get to the next signing, 30 or 40 seemed like a rest.

    New York decides where I go on tour, as I think I've told you. Sometimes they make odd choices; they once planned to send me to Phoenix so I could visit my brother, only he lives in Tucson, he couldn't dump the classes he teaches to come to Phoenix, and we had just seen each other on a fishing trip a few weeks before anyway. It is possible for fans to get places added. (Within reason, anyway; I was told if I had gone to all the stores that wanted me on the last tour, I'd have been out for six months!) Anyway, both Washington, D.C. and Toronto were added to the last tour because of fan complaints about being excluded. They made enough noise, apparently, that Tor decided I should go.

    I think I got the December and February Chronicles. I think I did. My wife sometimes wonders how I can keep the plots straight when I can't remember which day to put out the garbage. I tell her it's an acquired skill, but I don't say which bit is the skill.

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  • 6

    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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  • 7

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Eric Ligner

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

    Robert Jordan

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

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  • 8

    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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  • 9

    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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  • 10

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1998

    jude74

    Are you married? Children? Grandchildren? lol

    Robert Jordan

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

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  • 11

    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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  • 12

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

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

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  • 13

    Interview: Nov 14th, 1998

    Robert Jordan

    It seems Jordan learned to read by having his father read to him constantly (when he was being read to, he wasn't messing around with expensive "toys" that broke easily). They started out with children's books, until Dad found out that it didn't matter whether Jordan really understood or not, and started reading books that Dad wanted to read instead. This went on for a while, until the night Dad put a book away before it was finished, so Jordan grabbed it and struggled through it on his own, figuring out what he didn't understand through context. (The Maltese Falcon was mentioned, but I don't recall how, other than as one of the books that he liked.)

    When Jordan was six, he got a library card—like "the keys to the city". The librarians didn't want to let him out of the kids section, so he learned tricks. If you shelved books in the reading room, they would stay there, so you could pick them up again later, whether they belonged there or not. And kids could go to the reference section. "I discovered the encyclopedia."

    The library at the time was in a mansion—the "Miskelle house", I think. He spelled it for me (without being asked; by that time there had been more than one comment about the lunatic scribbling notes on everything), but my notes were rather cramped by that time.

    "Reading is like breathing. If you take it away, first I become antsy, then violent."

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  • 14

    Interview: Nov 29th, 2000

    Robert Jordan

    Tonight was fun because his family was there as well as his wife. I am guessing he has a lot of family here because I heard RJ say a few times that "he's my cousin/she's my cousin". One guy, about 20 or so came in and somebody asked "Is that Mat?" and the guy standing and talking to RJ's wife turned to us and said, "Well, yeah probably." The guy was the kid's father and probably RJ's nephew.

    The guy did seem to be a likeness to Mat but had the whole N'Sync earring thing going.

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  • 15

    Interview: Dec, 2000

    Orbit Interview (Verbatim)

    Orbit

    What do you have planned for Christmas?

    Robert Jordan

    A few house guests, some family and some friends. Gifts under the tree, a fire in the fireplace, and as many people at table for Christmas dinner as we can accommodate. Too much food, a little too much wine, and a lot of sitting with my feet up.

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  • 16

    Interview: Dec 1st, 2001

    Dragonmount

    In the December issue of the Orbit Books Newsletter, the UK publishers asked various authors what the best, and worst part about the Holidays were. Robert Jordan gave this answer:

    Robert Jordan

    The best thing about Christmas is getting family and house guests together. We always have the largest tree we can find, over-decorated in a rather Edwardian fashion, and Christmas morning, with everyone around the tree opening presents and drinking eggnog or champagne—or both, for the foolhardy—is always wonderful. The second best thing is Christmas dinner, with extra tables set up because we can't seat everyone in the dining room even with both leaves put in the dining room table. The worst thing about Christmas is trying to find just the right present to match each of those family members and house guests, plus the folks who couldn't make it to Charleston for the holidays. It has to be something to suit the person exactly. One year, I became so maddened by this search that I wrapped everyone's present in paper that repeated "Bah, Humbug!" all over. The second worst thing is cleaning up after Christmas dinner. The champagne always means that any offered help is highly suspect as to stability.

    Dragonmount

    As always, Robert Jordan had a lot to say. :)

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  • 17

    Interview: Apr 4th, 2001

    Question

    You were very young when you came in contact with the great authors of fantasy...

    Robert Jordan

    Oh yes, I... Ah, I taught myself to read. Well, it was quite incidental. My older brother...ah, he would be stuck sometimes, when my parents couldn't get a babysitter, he would be stuck with looking after me. He found out that he could keep me quiet by reading to me. Mainly to keep me from flying his [balsa wood] airplanes or whatever and to keep my hands out of his fishtanks, that sort of thing. Ah, and he read to me. but of course he wasn't about to read children's books to me, so he read the books that he wanted to read. Uhm, I remember... I don't remember when I began making a connection between the marks on the paper and the sounds coming out of his mouth, but I do remember a day when I was four years old that... It must have been a weekend, because my parents came home on a day like... and he took off. He put the book back on the shelf, and I didn't want him to stop with the story, so I took the book back down, eh, it was Jack London's White Fang and I managed to break through it... Ah, I didn't manage to understand every word, but I managed to make my way through the rest of the book with enough understanding to be able to pick up on the story. So I eh, I did start reading quite early.

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  • 18

    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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  • 19

    Interview: Jan 14th, 2003

    Matthew Julius

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

    Robert Jordan

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

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

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  • 20

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    Did you come from a reading family?

    Robert Jordan

    Oh yes, bookshelves all over the house.

    Ernest Lilley

    What did your parents do?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, my mother was a housewife, she worked in defense during WWII, but other than that she was a housewife. My father had been a police officer after WWII, and then he went to work for the State Ports Authority in South Carolina. Where he worked up till his retirement, he had to retire early for health reasons.

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  • 21

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    SFRevu Interview (Verbatim)

    Ernest Lilley

    Do you remember what the first book that you read was?

    Robert Jordan

    Yes, It was White Fang, but only the second half of it. You see, my older brother, who is twelve years older than I am, was sometimes stuck babysitting me, and what he did to keep me from sticking my hands in his goldfish bowl, and to keep from flying his balsa wood planes off the porch, was to read to me. He would read whatever he had to read for school though, and I somehow picked up reading out of this, and the first time it really manifested itself to me, he had been reading White Fang until our parents came home and he put it back on the shelf...and I wanted to know what happened. So I took the book back down and I worked my way through it. I did not get every word, but I got enough to understand the story. I remember that very clearly. I was very proud of myself for doing that. By the next year I had no trouble at all with Twain or Verne. I had a little difficulty with H.G. Wells.

    Ernest Lilley

    It sounds like you were a pretty eclectic reader.

    Robert Jordan

    At that point I was reading anything I could get my hands on. You see I was reading what I found on my parents bookshelves. Later, when I got a library card, I was disgusted to find I was supposed to go to something called the "children's section".

    The only books I found there that I enjoyed were the "Freddy the Pig" books, and some juvenile Heinlein. Those books fascinated me and I loved them. For the rest, there was nothing in the children's section that I wanted to pay attention to, and I wanted to get books like I'd been reading at home. So, I'd go into the adult's section of the library and snag books off the adult shelves. I'd take them to a reading room and I'd put the books that I wanted to keep on a shelf where they didn't seem to be bothered, and I'd leave the ones that I didn't find interesting on the table where they would get put back.

    Thus I went through life never reading any children's books, until I was married. The first time my wife got sick she wanted me to read her children's books...so I did.

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  • 22

    Interview: Jan 6th, 2004

    NYC, NY

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

    Robert Jordan

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

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

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  • 23

    Interview: Mar 8th, 2005

    CBR

    Jordan's been a long time fan of comics and graphic novels, dating back to his early childhood when his family first exposed him to comics.

    Robert Jordan

    "I learned to read early—I was reading Jules Verne and Mark Twain at five—and my Uncles went into their attics and gave me not only their old "boys' books," things like Jack Armstrong: All-American Boy and The Flying Midshipmen, but also old comics they had from the '30s and '40s. For a while, I had a fairly valuable collection, though I didn't know it then. None of the really rare items, but some that would have fetched nice prices. Though I have to admit that after all these years, I can't recall the issue numbers. I bought, too, choosing carefully because my allowance only stretched so far. My own purchases were pretty far ranging. For example, I liked Batman and Scrooge McDuck about equally. In any case, that ended when I went away to college.

    "I came home for the first time to find out that my mother had given all of the comics and boys' books to various children because 'surely I didn't want those old things any more.' There's no way you can go to a ten-year old and tell him you want him to give back the comics he was just given. I mean, they weren't that valuable. But I still followed comics, and later graphic novels, which didn't exist when I was in college. It was really intermittent—'Howard the Duck,' Chaykin's 'American Flagg,' a few others that I still have—until Frank Miller got his hands on Batman. That brought me back on board, and I've been there ever since. I'm pretty choosy, partly as a matter of time—most of my reading is print—but when I see something that's new and interesting, I leap on it. And I buy compilations of older works that I recall fondly, too, for myself and as gifts. My wife doesn't know it, but she was a fan of Plastic Man as a girl, and she's getting six hardcover volumes of 'Plastic Man' compilations as soon they're delivered."

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  • 24

    Interview: Oct 4th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For elementfwwe, what keeps me going is that I enjoy what am doing. Think about it. I can make a living doing what I enjoy more than anything except sex.

    I don't pattern characters after real people, but I do sometimes lift part of a real person for a character. I will say that a character in Knife of Dreams, Charlz Guybon, is named after a man whose wife won an auction for naming rights after I agreed to be part of a fund raiser for an English charity that works with victims of torture. She sent me his description, which I used. As I've often said, each of my major female characters has at least one element drawn from Harriet. And I won't tell her which parts of which characters came from her. That despite the fact that, as she likes to point out, she knows where I sleep. She did figure out that she is Semirhage when the garbage doesn't get to the curb on time, though.

    As for my idol, that is my father, now deceased. He was a wonderful man, with a rich life. I'll try to paint a small picture. He got his first car, a Model A, at the age of thirteen because he had the habit of hitching rides with bootleggers in the Tennessee mountains, and after he was in a wreck where the driver ran off and my father told the police who had been chasing them that he had been driving, his father decided to put an end to the hitching. He was a noted middleweight boxer in the 1930s, rising in the rankings, but stopped after he badly injured another man in the ring. He was a veteran of WWII who spent a lot of time behind the Japanese lines, a quiet, gentle man who taught me to rebuild automobile engines, to hunt and fish. He told stories over the campfire when we were out hunting or fishing, thus starting me on the road to storytelling myself. He never said a word about me stealing shotgun shells from his stock so a known bootlegger and poacher would take me into the woods with him. Well, I didn't know about the poaching until later. But Junior knew more about the woods than anybody else I've ever met. My father was a poker shark with a photographic memory who allowed me to sit in for three hands whenever the weekly game was at our house, even when I was young enough to need to sit on three encyclopedias to be able to get my arms on the table. He staked me, he ate the losses, and we split any winnings I had. I did win one of those hands while sitting on stacked up Encyclopedia Americanas. He told my brothers and me that he had few requirements of us. Be honest. Keep your word always. Try to do better with your life than he had done with his. And whatever you decided to be, whether it was a college professor or an auto mechanic, be the best at it that you could manage to be. Yes, he was, and is, my idol.

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  • 25

    Interview: Oct 5th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    If I seem to be posting a lot, it's because the tour is coming up. I want to get in some of these things before I go away and the blog goes on hiatus. We'll be flying to New York on Saturday to take care of some business before the tour begins, on Tuesday. I'm a little worried about the first signing, I'll admit. I know I can pull a good evening crowd in NYC; I've done it before. But 12:30 on a Tuesday? That's the slot where they put politicians, movies stars and celebrities. Yes, I'm a little concerned.

    I will try to post again tomorrow or Friday, but I can't guarantee. We've been housing relatives from New Orleans, you see. My younger brother Reynolds has already gone back and begun teaching high school again, and his son Rey, a NO cop who was at the precinct they dubbed Fort Apache until he was told off to drive a sick officer to Shreveport for medical aid, has also returned to duty after fighting off bronchitis. Rey's wife Heather, who has a masters in disaster relief management, is hoping to head back today or tomorrow with infant son David, while Reynolds' wife Barbara Gay will be heading back tomorrow or the next day with son Jim III. Can you spell hectic? I knew that you could.

    Well, let's get on with it. By the way, I don't favor women in my answers. I just answer what seem like interesting questions where answering won't give away too much.

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  • 26

    Interview: Oct 6th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Ben, I'm glad you have a school-sanctioned WoT club at Alfred. (I do use WoT once in a while. Sometimes, though, it just seems to me that it should be tWoT. No big deal either way.) As an aside, my goddaughter, Jessica Jones, got her degree in ceramics from Alfred. You might be able to find out a little about her there. After she left and studied at Xian (I hope I have the spelling right), she began being referred to as Jones of China. She studied with a man who had been designated a "living treasure" by the government, and she was the only non-Chinese ceramist invited to display her work in a national show just before she came home.

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  • 27

    Interview: Oct 6th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Lord of Salvation, I'm sorry to hear that you had to become a refugee. I hope you plan on returning to help rebuild. My brother teaches at West Jefferson High School.

    Also, Moiraine did enter the Rhuidean doorframe ter'angreal. That's the one that caught fire and melted after she and Lanfear passed through together. Berelain certainly knows of the Tear doorframe, but she has never entered it.

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  • 28

    Interview: Jan 20th, 2003

    Rick Kleffel

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

    Robert Jordan

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

    Rick Kleffel

    Okay! That'll do it.

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  • 29

    Interview: Oct 18th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    Before he started signing, he said that we could take as many pictures as we liked under two conditions: 1) NO male nudity and 2) Don’t show too much of his bald spot. (That worked for me as I had no intention of the first and I have a bald spot, too.) My wife and I got our books signed and took pictures with Mr. Jordan. He talked to us for about three minutes as our teenage daughter was with us and hasn’t gotten into the series. He told her that she might like to try it because of the strong female characters. He said all the men in his family are very strong because if they weren’t the women would eat them up.

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  • 30

    Interview: Oct 31st, 2005

    Robert Jordan

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

    Ursula

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

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  • 31

    Interview: Mar, 2006

    Steven Steinbock

    Decorated Vietnam War veteran Robert Jordan began putting quill to parchment in 1977, and hasn't stopped since. Storytelling is in Jordan's blood. The South Carolina native, who taught himself to read at age 4 and began reading Jules Verne and Mark Twain at age 5, has written novels set during the American Revolution, a dozen adventures featuring Robert E. Howard's Conan, and, most notably, 12 epic novels (11 primary novels and one prequel) in his Wheel of Time fantasy series.

    Robert Jordan

    "The spoken word is the basis for all storytelling," he told us from his 1797 home in the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina. "My father and my uncles were storytellers. When we went fishing or hunting, there was always storytelling at night. I grew up with that oral tradition. I've always thought that my writing lends itself to being read aloud for that very reason."

    Steven Steinbock

    We asked him about the advantages of listening to a book as opposed to reading it.

    Robert Jordan

    "When reading an actual book," he answered, "it's possible to skip over things. You make connections in your head, and you find you're not registering every word. But when it's read to you, there's a difference. You hear every word."

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  • 32

    Interview: Mar 31st, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    For Pat, who asked subtly, yes, I am, but like my father and grandfather before me, I don't advertise. We like to believe that no man in this country should feel in danger because of his beliefs, but times change. History tells us that, even here. Political practices we see as unthinkable were carried out as a matter of course by Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Who can say what tomorrow will bring, or next year, or next decade? So should you ask me again, I have no idea what you are talking about unless you are inside the walls of a Lodge.

    Footnote

    In case it's not clear, RJ is saying that he is a Mason.

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  • 33

    Interview: May 1st, 2006

    Robert Jordan

    Some of you have asked about my brothers and male relatives offering to shave their heads. Most have felt that since I did a voluntary slipping of my scalp, the pledge was not invoked yet. Good enough by me. The exception was Bill. Wilson is technically a cousin, but he has always been the fourth of the three Rigney brothers, and I'll tell you, I am as close to him as I am to my brother Reynolds, as close as I was my brother Ted. I could insert some pics here, but I will send them to Jason and let him post them.

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  • 34

    Interview: May 1st, 2006

    Robert Jordan

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

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

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

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

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  • 35

    Interview: May 15th, 2006

    Wilson Grooms

    To those of you that have said nice things about my small show of support for my brother-cousin, thank you. He's what this is about however. To Nynaeve, you were absolutely spot on. He would have done the same to support me were the tables reversed.

    I have read all your comments and well wishings and I sense that in your own ways, you love him as much as I do. That you have included sweet Harriet in your thoughts is most wonderful. Thank you for that. RJ is doing what few get to, pursue his passion. Parrot Heads will recognize the origin; most of us live as oysters. RJ on the other hand is a Pearl. Still, imagine the courage it takes to put your work out there for the entire world to critique. That you have embraced his imaginary world and him is humbling, but gratifying validation. However, I know the man, he would be doing the same, as a starving writer to a scant few as long as the publisher allowed. True, your devoted following has made it easier for him to pursue his craft, but pursue it he would regardless. And for making his road in life a bit easier to navigate, I again thank you.

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  • 36

    Interview: Jun 1st, 2007

    Robert Jordan

    For Cheyenne, I'm glad I could help out. We always used to say that in my family all of the men were strong and fierce because the women killed and ate the weak ones. True. 'Tis true, you know.

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  • 37

    Interview: Apr, 2001

    Gerhard Hormann

    Many people that like reading fantasy, are secretly aspiring writers. What is your advice to them?

    Robert Jordan

    To people that want to write, I always say: write. Start easy. Write something you would like to read yourself. Pick apart your favorite books and see how they are put together. Do the same with books that are praised by critics. Take a book you like, and rewrite it. Remove parts, change how it is built up, whatever. Not to get the results published – that would be plagiarism – but to get experience. Then proceed to write a summary of a book. Make a prologue for an imaginary book. That would, you get closer and closer to the real work. But seriously, don’t start with a series of over ten books. (laughs)

    Gerhard Hormann

    A bad childhood doesn’t hurt either, I’m told...

    Robert Jordan

    Indeed. Not and then, parents approach me to ask: “My child is talented, how do I encourage him to write?” My advice is always: “Give them an unhappy childhood”. All writers I know personally, and also painters and other artists, have all had an unhappy childhood. Or at least a very insecure childhood. You really don’t need to hit your child for that: moving every six months is enough. I can’t guarantee that they will actually become writers—they might as well turn into psychopaths—but it is a condition. Also, it might well be possible that a psychopath writes perfect books. In that regard, I can’t vouch for the mental health of myself and my colleagues.

    Gerhard Hormann

    Is writing therapeutical? Or is a bad childhood an inexhaustible sources of inspiration?

    Robert Jordan

    The latter. Children who experience what things in some way, often tend to seek refuge in the save, trusted world in their head. They become dreamers. And that budding creativity can later be turned into books or paintings.

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  • 38

    Interview: Oct 6th, 2008

    Wilson Grooms

    Friday was a beautiful day in the Two Rivers. There was a gentle breeze blowing inland and the sky was crystal. Perfect. Unlike the services a year ago, the laying of the ledger stone on Jim's grave was a quiet family affair. So, with apologies, I won't share the details. Jim's resting place is identified with a marker that will last for a few hundred years. I found myself thinking that his work will outlive even the marble on his grave. The stone is simple in form. It is etched with a few words which perfectly describe the gentle giant of a man that he was.....

    James Oliver Rigney, Jr.

    Born October 17, 1948
    Died September 16, 2007

    Father Story Teller
    Soldier Singer

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  • 39

    Interview: Apr 30th, 2010

    Richard Fife

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

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

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

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  • 40

    Interview: Jun 30th, 2010

    Luckers

    What is your favorite aspect of the series?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    The people. And the writing.

    Luckers

    What is your favorite character, and why?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Perrin reminds me of Jim, for as you probably know he was a big man, with 54 inch shoulders. Mat reminds me of Jim, because he is such a delightful rascal. Rand reminds me of Jim because he is a world changer.

    I love them all. I also love Hurin, because he reminds me of Jim's father; Basel Gill, because he keeps a good inn, Thom Merrilin because he is a wonderful storyteller—well, you get the idea. There are about 2,000 named characters, and I love them all. Even Mordeth.

    Luckers

    What is your favorite plot-line, and why?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    That's like asking which child is my favorite!

    Luckers

    Are there any characters you really dislike?

    Harriet McDougal Rigney

    Well, the villains of darkest dye, of course, but actually (see above) I love them too.

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  • 41

    Interview: Sep, 2000

    Tahir Velimeev

    James, please tell us a little about yourself.

    Robert Jordan

    I was born in 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina, where I live now, in a house built in 1797. My home town is famous because of the shelling of Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor during the Civil War between the North and South. My brother, older than me by twelve years, instilled in me an appreciation for books . And when our parents left him to the nanny, he read to me, not children’s books, but those that interested him—Mark Twain, HG Wells, Jules Verne. Along with Twain, my favorite writers became Louis Lamour, Charles Dickens, John W. McDonald. In the years 1968-1970, I served in the Army.

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  • 42

    Interview: Apr 21st, 2012

    Matt Hatch

    How do you think Jim's experience of childhood in Charleston compared to your own?

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, Jim grew up real poor, and we were not, and I didn't...I mean I grew up in the house I live in now, which is in the best part of town—BIG—I've forgotten whether you were there for the (TarValon.net anniversary visit to Charleston)—

    Matt Hatch

    I...I haven't. I am coming!

    Harriet McDougal

    Well anyway, and it was...mother did a lot of yardwork, but she was a snob about food. My best friend lived down the street, and in that house, there was post-WWII margarine, which the dairy people, they controlled it, and it was white stuff in a bag with a yellow pill, and you'd have to mash it through the plastic to make it go yellow, you remember that horrible stuff?

    Matt Hatch

    Interesting...

    Teri Hatch

    I remember hearing about it.

    Harriet McDougal

    Oh, it was...yeah, awful. Mother wouldn't have it in the house, and the only bread she would have in the house was Pepperidge Farm. She really ate and cooked and all of that, and Wilson was saying the other day, he remembered sitting at Jim's mother's table, and supper was mayonnaise sandwiches.

    Matt Hatch

    (laughs) I loved mayonnaise sandwiches.

    Harriet McDougal

    Yeah, but mother didn't do that. I lived, really, a live of privilege as a child. Jim's life was not. His father came back from the War, and when they married, his father got a job on the police force, and also painted houses on the weekend to make extra money, so it was pretty hard scrabble. And they then built a house with their own hands outside of town, and unfortunately put chlordane down in the cellar, in the foundation to kill bugs—nobody said it was not such a good thing to do—so it's possible Mr. Rigney's health problems might have had something to do with that. But I think Jim had a happy childhood.

    Matt Hatch

    Did your mother know Jim?

    Harriet McDougal

    No; neither of my parents ever met him.

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  • 43

    Interview: May 15th, 2006

    Wilson Grooms

    We had a really great day together this past Saturday. Our dearest Harriet insisted that the boys needed to visit the local Harley shop to procure do rags for our chrome domes. RJ entered the showroom of gleaming road-ready American icons with a thunderous, "Holy Mamma! We're in Church!" Stopped people dead where they stood he did. Janet, my love and shade of my heart, found a camouflage do rag which the Vietnam Vet thought fit him most nicely. Then she happened upon a black rag with a luminescent blue pattern on it. She showed it to me and I announced that they were dragons. RJ's head popped from around the opposite side of the display and he queried quite like we were still adolescents, "Dragons?" Two left the shop and were soon upon our heads. Oh we did kick tires and discuss at length the merits of this or that bike. I longed for the Classic mid life comfort bike, bedecked of faring, chrome, CD player, et al. RJ offered that I might as well be riding in a car. In the end I think we were both eyeing the Soft Tail. But our favorite was the Fat Boy in a very stealthy new matte paint, Black Denim.

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  • 44

    Interview: May 15th, 2006

    Wilson Grooms

    All the rattling about the Do Rags is for a reason. You, his loyal fans and supporters, know that this world that you so love has sprung from that amazing mind of his. Rand, for all his heroics is but a figment of my dear brother's imagination. RJ on the other hand, is now and has always been the Dragon. Seeing him wearing his dragon bedecked do rag only refocused me to that fact. When he called me with the news of the disease, he announced with calm resolve that it was there and that it was fatal. He also vowed to beat it. Heroes do that you know. He has shared the amyloid ordeal most openly with you all. Read between the lines of his postings and you will see that this was no small struggle. While he is setting all manner of records for an amyloid patient, we have yet to learn if the amyloids are truly gone for good. Time will tell. Pray, as I do, that they are. Dr. Hayman is truly of the Yellow Ajah. But, the medical treatments required to vanquish this unseen enemy damned near kills the patient. Thusly, RJ is back from near-death and reborn to us. Fantasy is just that. Reality is much more inspiring. I am here to proclaim loudly to all of you that my brother-cousin, my confidant, my friend, is indeed the Dragon Reborn. Long live the Dragon!

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  • 45

    Interview: Oct 11th, 2005

    David Funke

    So yes, I was disappointed. However, I would NOT let my disappointment sully my chance to exchange a few words with this excellent author. I welcomed him to New York, and then told him I hoped he'd had a nice weekend here, even though it did nothing but rain.

    Robert Jordan

    He said he always liked New York; he'd taken in a show, had some nice meals, and visited his godson in New Jersey. "That's good, I'm sure it's nice to be able to see family on these things," I said. Then, I once again wished him enjoyment on his tour, and I left.

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  • 46

    Interview: Mar 15th, 2003

    M. L. Van Valkenburgh

    But it was more likely something deeper. Tolkien had a great mastery over the world in which his characters lived. Indeed, that was why he wrote his stories at all. As a master linguist who was utterly fascinated by ancient British and Norse mythology, his goal was to create a separate world. He even created a language to go along with it—Elvish—which anyone with a great deal of time and inclination can learn.

    Jordan, too, has created a new world, but his world is a byproduct of his story.

    Robert Jordan

    "The beginnings of the story came first, then the world began to grow." he says.

    "I was rather shocked by the write-up in the New York Times comparing me to Tolkien. We have totally different backgrounds. He has an English voice and drew strongly from English and Norse traditions. I have a Southern voice. He had two women of note—Arwen and Eowyn. In my world's mythology, women tell half the story. I grew up around strong women. Women killed and ate the meek men in my world," he says.

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  • 47

    Interview: Feb 13th, 2013

    Harriet McDougal

    The week after my husband's funeral, a friend was staying with me. She'd come down for the service, and she, as so many people are, was both a fan of fantasy and heavily into the net. And she put a printout in front of me—the basic sort of semi-Luddite—and said, you need to read this. And it was the eulogy that Brandon had written and posted on his website. And I read it and thought, gosh, that's just beautiful. And it's also the feeling for my husband's work that I would love to see in whoever takes over to finish the series, because in his last weeks and months, my husband had made it very clear to me that he did want the series finished. I draw a distinction—he had a horror of sharecropping, the endless work of other writers in a world that someone has created. He really had a horror of that, so that's not going to happen. But he really did want the series finished.

    He began one Saturday night. His cousin—a cousin named Wilson Grooms, who was as close to him as a brother—was visiting. And I had a friend there, thank God, who'd once been a court reporter. And I was scrabbling round in the kitchen making food or something, and Jim . . . who’s read the book? Who's not read the book?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The last one? Who hasn't finished the last one?

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, okay.

    Brandon Sanderson

    No spoilers, then.

    Harriet McDougal

    Well, okay. My husband, called Jim, began to talk and he said, there's a blank in the blank that nobody knows about, not even Harriet. And he was off and running. And the court reporter was there, fortunately, because I was trying to take notes, and instead I was just staring at him in rapture, kind of. And Wilson went out at midnight and bought a tape recorder, and that was the start of a real outpouring of what he wanted in the rest of the series. That's how I knew he wanted it finished. Otherwise, he'd have kept his mouth shut. Which was not very much in his nature.

    [laughter]

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