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2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Heya. So. Kind of harsh question—you are reported to have inferred recently that the Black Ajah and Nynaeve etc. ability to...
...to be solid and channel properly during the Dream Battle in Towers of Midnight has an explanation. Is this true? I struggle...
... to believe that given the text and my communications with Maria, and was wondering if it was misquoted?
Aight. Literally as I posted the above to Brandon, Maria replied with that this whole issue is a Read and Find Out issue. I'm a douche.
Did anyone check out the ebook to see if any changes have been made to that scene?
Don't think so... been chatting with Maria about it and she's not indicated any changes.
Look for an email soon; there were changes. I'm having a difficult day; I didn't think that you might not have seen an ebook.
The differences were found and posted at Theoryland.
I found the bit with Luckers after I'd done the 2011 Tweets. By date, it fits here best, but the context is not necessarily significant; I can't insert entries anywhere but at the end of an 'interview' page, but I can edit previous entries, so here it is.
I realized the wording wasn't very clear on @e_wot. Here's the full quote:
In the way of dreams she floated above a long, straight road across a grassy plain, looking down upon a man riding a black stallion. Gawyn. Then she was standing in the road in front of him, and he reined in. Not because he saw her, this time, but the road that had been straight now forked right where she stood, running over tall hills so no one could see what lay beyond. She knew, though. Down one fork was his violent death, down the other, a long life and a death in bed. On one path, he would marry her, on the other, not. She knew what lay ahead, but not which way led to which. Suddenly he did see her, or seemed to, and smiled, and turned his horse along one of the forks... And she was in another dream.
Q: Why has the Towers of Midnight progress bar been stuck at the same number for so long?
A: Been doing revisions. Plan to do a blog post soon.
Brandon summarizes why the next book will be a bit more chaotic than The Gathering Storm, which may make Towers of Midnight a longer book. The Gathering Storm feels focused, whereas the Towers of Midnight may not feel that way.
Brandon discusses Mistborn questions.
Brandon mentioned that Peter knows the secret.
Brandon admitted there would be overlapping chronology between The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight and that Graendal's name will be mentioned a few times.
Brandon said the progress of book completion is sometimes edited down and then up depending on the subtraction or addition of submitted content.
Now to the main announcement, which appeared on my Twitter/Facebook feeds last week: Towers of Midnight, book 13 of the Wheel of Time, is finished. All of the drafts are done, the final revisions made, the book turned in. (And for those who don't watch Twitter/Facebook, we're hoping to eventually post a weekly "best of" or something here on the website for you to read through.)
Getting the book done on time (or, well, close to it) took a lot out of me. I was basically worthless Wednesday and Thursday of last week recuperating. And I'm not a guy who often needs to do things like that. However, I feel that the book turned out very well. The publication date is set for November 2nd, and at this point, there's basically no chance we'll miss that. So go ahead and preorder and make your plans to come see me on one of my upcoming tours. Things look good.
Now that it's done, I can sit back and look at the book as a whole. As I said, I'm very pleased with it. For months I've been telling people that I feel that in many ways, it's even more true to the Wheel of Time than The Gathering Storm was. I hope to maintain the pacing that made people enjoy The Gathering Storm, but at the same time Towers of Midnight has a much expanded scope than the previous novel, showing a larger picture and getting back to many characters who were ignored or had reduced parts in The Gathering Storm. Though we are jumping back in time for a few viewpoints to catch them up, it does also continue Rand/Egwene and other characters who had a large focus in The Gathering Storm.
I hope that you enjoy it. There are some scenes in it we've been waiting to read for a long, long time. Scenes that made my heart break to write, and others that bring a smile to my face every time I look through them again.
The biggest difference is that in The Gathering Storm I took two tight narratives and built them both to an enormous crescendo. In Towers of Midnight I had to make each chapter have more of an impact. In Towers of Midnight there are these amazing scenes, chapter after chapter—BAM BAM BAM, this incredible scene you've been waiting for, this other incredible scene you've been waiting for, this majestic scene you've been waiting for—but at the same time we're showing the scope around the world. Now, the book has one of those tight narratives that builds to an enormous crescendo that I'm very pleased with. But a lot of the rest of the book is this sequence and that sequence and this sequence and that sequence, so it's a very different book. Book twelve felt more like books one, two, and three to me. Book thirteen feels like books four, five, and six. This expands the vision and goes back to places we've been before.
It was a wonderful process. I actually think that Towers of Midnight is a better Wheel of Time book than The Gathering Storm was. But it made for a much more difficult write, because tying all of these elements together was a big challenge. Tying two narratives together is challenging, but then suddenly when you have eight narratives and have to make sure that they thematically work together, and all of that, is that much more of a challenge.
We'll see what readers think. In these books I am particularly beholden to the Wheel of Time fans. I feel these books are for them. So I won't really know if I've been successful until they read it. But I feel very pleased with the book.
As of midnight last night, the prologue ebook for Towers of Midnight is now available to buy from the usual ebook stores: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, etc. There is also an audiobook version on Audible.
Some people have wondered who would want to buy just the prologue six weeks early when it doesn't include anything you won't get when the full book comes out on November 2nd. This is something that's really only for the hardcore fans who just can't wait any longer. Most people will wait and that's perfectly okay. But for those who don't want to wait, or who can't stand to avoid the spoiler discussion threads on Tor.com, Dragonmount, and Theoryland, the prologue is out there for you. How long is it? It's not the longest prologue in the Wheel of Time by any means, but there are six different points of view and the audio version clocks in at just under two hours. It's a bit longer than the prologue from The Gathering Storm.
There will be free previews too. Chapter 8 was revealed here via the recent Great Hunt. And I've heard Tor.com will put up the first two chapters as they did last year. But in any case, the book release is only six weeks away. We're in the home stretch.
How difficult has weaving Towers of Midnight around The Gathering Storm been? Is there a large amount of inter-connectivity? Do we cross back on any events in The Gathering Storm?
Yes, we do cross back on events in The Gathering Storm. The trickiest part was timeline. Robert Jordan had this innate ability to juggle timelines. This is not something he relied on Maria, Alan, or Harriet for; it was something he did on his own, just part of the genius of his brain. All of us are pretty new at this. I mean, I wrote Mistborn chronologically. There wasn’t any time juggling. There was time juggling to do in Elantris, but it was across the course of a single novel. It didn’t get as extensive. For the Wheel of Time, timeline things that Robert Jordan kept in his head are quite incredible, and I have to admit that I’m not as good at it as he was. Perhaps someday I will be able to get to that level, but for now I’m simply not. So working with the timeline has taken a lot of effort. I think we’ve got it so it all worked out. It took a lot of help. Maria, Alan, and others all worked together with me to get things arranged—some of our beta readers were extremely helpful in this—but there is a lot of juggling back and forth. You will see some events from different perspectives. It is not a complete jump back like book ten was. I would say that the book is mostly new material with a few glances at other things that are happening, but we’re moving forward; I’d say 60% of the book is taking place past what happened in The Gathering Storm. And then there’s one timeline in particular where we jump back and catch up—that’s Perrin’s timeline. But it was really challenging.
That suggestion came about because I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to fit it in. In the end I decided to get three or four chapters of it into Towers of Midnight. So it is there. I haven’t yet decided whether the rest of that story will happen on screen in A Memory of Light or whether it will have to happen off screen. The outline is all there, but I’m still not sure what I’ll have time for and what will work with the pacing.
Posting something on my website is not something that I could just do offhandedly. If I were going to do it it would take a lot of talking to Harriet and Tor and getting permission. So that was really only a long-shot contingency plan. Will it happen? I don’t know. We’ll have to see what gets into A Memory of Light. I’m pleased with the parts I was able to fit into Towers of Midnight, which means there’s a good chance I’ll be able to fit the rest into A Memory of Light.
I found "Veins of Gold" and "A Fount of Power" to be two of the most epic and intense climaxes in the series. In your opinion are the two climaxes of Towers of Midnight similarly epic?
The climaxes in the book are epic. One thing you have to remember in Towers of Midnight is that there is not as narrow a focus as there was in The Gathering Storm. So we’re dealing with more characters in many different places, which means that instead of as in the previous book where we could dedicate a good third of the pages directly to Rand—maybe even more—and build to one majestic, powerful climax, I’m not doing that as much in this book. Instead of twenty chapters from one character, you’ll get ten, and building to each climax will narratively depend on your love for the characters and your experience from the previous books. I think there are some wonderful climaxes that are a long time in coming. Are they on the level of The Gathering Storm? I’m really going to have to let people decide that for themselves.
Defining what makes something epic is so hard even for an epic fantasy writer. One definition of epic can be what we just talked about—a big, massive build across a huge number of chapters to something enormously earth-shattering. But you can also look at epic as a dozen different characters seen across a dozen different plots building toward one event—each of their pieces is smaller, yet builds to something larger. Those are both good definitions. Towers of Midnight is more like the latter definition. The Gathering Storm is more like the former definition.
A few early reviewers have noticed that there is a spoiler in the glossary. There are always little spoilers in the glossary, so that's nothing new. But in this case, it's really best not to read the glossary until you've finished the book.
Towers of Midnight will be released in fourteen days and seven hours. If you want to order a signed and numbered copy from Sam Weller's, you have just one week left. I'll be driving up there next Monday morning and personalizing all the books that they've received preorders for. As of a week ago more than half of their copies were already reserved, so if you've been thinking about ordering a copy, now's the time. [EDIT: Sam Weller's is now SOLD OUT. Wow, that was fast.] Of course, if I'm going to be appearing close to where you live, then you should support your local bookseller and get the book signed when I get there.
The prologue ebook is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, Audible, etc. But with the book just two weeks away, if you haven't already read the prologue by this point you can hold off two more weeks, right? There are also free previews: Chapter One on Tor.com and Chapter Eight here. I believe that Tor.com will also be releasing Chapter Two, possibly this week.
Dragonmount has announced the names of the lucky people selected to be Tower Guards for my upcoming tour. Congrats to the selectees! If you didn't get picked, don't lose heart. I'll still get a lot of chances to talk to people on the tour, and Tor will most likely make the next tour, for A Memory of Light, my largest ever.
Have you seen the book trailer that Tor had Jason put together for Towers of Midnight? I realize it's been out for a while (it debuted at Dragon*Con), but it's a real treat. There's also a "making of" feature here.
Harriet read an excerpt from Distinctions (pg. 43-45, Padan Fain)
Her phone rings near the beginning of the reading, and without missing a beat, she picks it up and passes it over to Brandon, still reading aloud. She didn't stop until the crowd started to laugh, and then she laughed too. She stopped for a moment and says "Well, we'll just pretend that didn't happen shall we." And continues. (Harriet read this great passage AMAZINGLY. It's not surprising, but it was awesome.)
Yes, Brandon had flight problems, and he showed up at about 8:30. He wouldn't answer anything that might spoil Towers of Midnight, but while signing my copy, I did ask him if Rand has met with Sorilea since his time on Drangonmount, and he said he thinks that Rand has. Sorry about not having much to give you.
(not verbatim) Egwene thought she was doing the right thing. She was acting as the Amyrlin and trying to make sure that he would be safe and out of the way of danger. She was not going to tie him up and leave him, she would have brought him somewhere safe away from the danger of the fight and left him there until it was over.
Who is stronger in Tel'aran'rhiod?
(not verbatim) They are both very strong, but in different ways. Perrin is very strong instinctively. Like the wolves, he makes decisions based on instinct while in Tel'aran'rhiod. Egwene plans out her moves rather than going by feeling as Perrin does. If the two were matched against each other the outcome would entirely be based on what type of encounter it was.
Brandon said there are two things going on—ta'veren and the Fisher King prophecy which says the Dragon is tied directly to the land. He says it seems to Rand that more bad stuff was happening in The Gathering Storm but that this could be either just Rand's perception or what is really going on. We should remember that ta'veren is supposed to be 50/50—an extra equal amount of good and bad going on. He would not tell us at this point whether there was really more bad stuff happening in The Gathering Storm or whether its Rand's perception as there was purposefully very few viewpoints from Rand himself in Towers of Midnight. Like the third book The Dragon Reborn, Towers of Midnight is meant to step away from Rand and view him from the viewpoints of others.
Someone also asked if Rand's ta'veren nature would affect people on the other side of an open gateway. Brandon said that the Pattern considers that Rand is where he is and not on the other side of the gateway, so he would not affect a place just by having a gateway open there and not actually being there.
The glossary, remember, was begun as a tradition before there were internet wiki sites, and it's limited by size in what it can contain. I don't do the glossary; that's all on Team Jordan. Maria handles it.
As for why the big secret was included in the glossary, I've said before that Harriet made the decision where it would go. I actually did suggest it, though I later changed my mind and thought I would put it in somewhere else, but she said, "No, I love this idea of the glossary." The reason I think that we like the glossary location so much is because the instruction I received from Robert Jordan was just a Post-It note that had written on it, "This is right," attached to a sheet of paper that was an explanation, one of the many, printed off from the internet, talking about who killed Asmodean. That Post-It note saying "This is right" was all there was—I didn't know the how, the why, the circumstances, any more than you know. So we felt that rather than extrapolate all of that ourselves, the best thing to do, as frustrating as it might be, was to give you the information much in the same way that we got it, as simply a "This is the person." That still allows a bit of theorizing on how this person was involved in the event, whether it was by her hand directly, or whether a servant was involved, or that sort of thing. That allows for theorizing.
Most of Robert Jordan's titles had twists. There are some that were very straightforward—The Dragon Reborn; The Great Hunt. There are others that are simply things like Knife of Dreams, which comes from a line in a quote at the beginning of the book. The titles usually refer to something specific as well as something metaphorical. Towers of Midnight is the title I chose. There of course are the Towers of Midnight in Seanchan, and if you knew what those were for, and why they were there, it would illuminate the question a little bit more. But the title also refers to the towers that Egwene saw.
My working title for this book was The Three Towers, as a pun on the title of the second book of the Lord of the Rings. I was writing the second book of a trilogy of sorts here, and was dealing with the Tower of Ghenjei, the White Tower, and the Black Tower. There was going to be a lot more Black Tower stuff in this book which has been moved to the next book, but when I was working on it, we had a lot of focus on those three towers. So the name just struck me. It felt like the right thing to do.
In reverse order: The editorial mistakes were basically because of the fast turnaround time between when I finished the book and when it was put out. We're working to get those fixed for the ebook and paperback editions, but really, deadlines are to blame there, which is one reason we're slowing down for the next book.
What you're seeing with the surprises, as you described them, is that not all of those are mine; I'm writing some of them that Robert Jordan left instructions on how to write, and the way I plot and reveal is going to be manifest in the way that I approach it.
In response to your first question, I'm given complete creative freedom in these books. Partially because Harriet trusts me, and partially because that's what a writer needs in order to be able to write a book like this. That said, I've mentioned before that I feel a strong compulsion to try to do the books as close to the way Robert Jordan would have as I can, taking into account my own writing style. I'm not trying to make these Brandon Sanderson books; I'm trying to make them Wheel of Time/Robert Jordan books, but I'm also not trying to imitate him since that would turn out as a bad parody. In the end, I'm allowed to do whatever I feel needs to be done to achieve the storytelling the story demands. I do have to convince Harriet, Maria, and Alan that it's the right thing to do. And in some cases that's an easy thing to do, and in some cases it's a harder thing to do. But in all cases I get to write it first and then let them read it. And if I don't manage to pull it off, then I say, "Well, let's try something different."
I know what you're talking about. I won't confirm 100% or not, but the phrasing was intentional.
One of the tricks of working with this is, I basically have five editors, with Harriet at the top, and then there's Maria and Alan right below. And then Moshe my editor is giving us reads...because we can't use my normal alpha readers for this, which are my writing group, because they'd all have to be part of the NDA and that's just too many people. And so instead we brought on Moshe to just give me an alpha read, a dry alpha read. And then my agent also gives me dry alpha reads, because they all are interested professionals and part of the NDA and things like that.
But basically, even looking only at Harriet, Maria, and Alan, what would happen is on The Gathering Storm, I would send in some scenes, and then I would start working on the next ones. And I would get deep into the next ones, and then some papers would come. I'm like, oh revisions. So I'd go back and start doing revision. And then another group of papers would come from another one of them that had revisions that were different. And then another group of papers would come that were a third group of revisions. And in some cases, they've all caught the same typo, but then I have to end up searching for it three times because I can't remember if I've changed that typo or not. And then I can't find it. I'm like, oh I guess that's one I caught, but really sometimes I didn't catch it, I'm just on the wrong page or something. Anyway, I have three sets of paper all from different people making different revisions, and sometimes they disagree with one another on what should be changed, and they're not seeing each other's revisions.
Meanwhile, I'm on tour trying to fly around and carry all of these. You should have seen me on the airplane one of these days where revisions were needed the next day, and I'm flying on a six-hour flight in coach. And I'm cuddled like this between two people in the middle seat, with six hundred pages around me, trying to find all three pages that are editing the same section, and realizing that one's in my suitcase. This was absolutely a nightmare to do.
And so this time, I'm like, let's go all digital, I'll have them all on my computer, it will be so much easier. But Harriet had never done digital revisions before. None of you had, I don't think. And so the idea was we would have one person do a revision, and then they would hand the file off, and that person could go through and a revision and add their comments, and then the next person would be able to do it. And that would have been wonderful in a perfect world. Unfortunately, we didn't have time for that because we were so crunched for time. And so what would happen is they all would be working on their own machine because they all needed to be reading at the same time, they couldn't wait for the other person. And so then they would all three send me documents digitally, which is easier to work with than trying to dig out all fifty pages of each. But at the same time, then I have four documents: my document, and three documents with revisions in it, from different versions of Word or Wordperfect or Open Office or whatever it is. I basically would just send them all to Peter (Peter Ahlstrom, Brandon's assistant) and say, "Peter, meld these somehow."
Peter deserves kudos.
I would like to say, at the beginning of the editing process on the last book, Brandon was 7 feet, 3 inches tall.
Right, so on the trainride, there was talk of the prologues, Brandon said that in each of the prologues for the last three books there is one section that was fully written by RJ—in The Gathering Storm it was the farmer scene and in Towers of Midnight it was the Borderlanders' scene.
He said that the prologue will most probably be released ahead of time again (no big surprise there) and ideally he'd like for people to be able to buy the prologue and then get that much discount on the actual book, however that's difficult to manage with laws and regulations and such.
Oh yeah, I also asked about the Tel'aran'rhiod fight (that was actually during the walk to the restaurant) and if the Black Ajah shouldn't have been more blurred out. See discussion at Readandfindout.com.
He said that the scene with the Borderlander farmers in The Gathering Storm prologue and the one with the Borderlander Watch Tower in the Towers of Midnight prologue were written by RJ and that they were some of the last complete scenes RJ wrote (he mentioned this in earlier interviews).
He refused to say who wrote "The Last That Could Be Done" from The Gathering Storm.
He wrote the scenes of Egwene's dinners with Elaida in The Gathering Storm. RJ's notes suggested just one dinner scene but BS decided that it would work better if it was split in two.
Oh boy, you’re fishing for Nakomi!
No, actually I'm not; somebody else submitted that question.
Okay. I would have to have the timeline in front of me.
Yeah. I think they asked because there are certain contradictions in the timeline and that’s why...
Oh yeah. There’s a mistake in Mat’s timeline.
And that was in The Gathering Storm, right?
No, there’s a mistake in Towers of Midnight. Mat sees sunshine when he shouldn't, or vice-versa. The reason for that being, Mat's timeline was the big one we were playing with, and we were moving him through the book to different places to decide where various things were appropriate, and where we settled on, both Alan and Bob Kluttz—who are really detailed timeline people—both stamped this timeline and said 'There are no flaws in this except there is an error in The Gathering Storm', which we have now changed. But we let a typo creep through—that one was more of a typo because we moved a scene from some place to some place else—and so there is a cloud typo. It is recorded on Twitter—I don’t know if you saw it—where someone pointed it out to me and I said 'We will get that changed.' Maria now is aware of it.
If it was recently then I didn’t get it, because I’m behind.
Okay. But Bob Kluttz does have an official timeline...he was one of the beta readers. The betas have all kind of come out now. I didn’t want people being jealous of them before the book came out, but...
Too late. I already knew about Linda. And I was jealous.
Yeah. I went to Bob because Bob is a master of timeline—one of them; there are many out there—and Bob’s job was to keep me honest on the timeline, and he did a really fantastic job, but we did miss one typo at least.
She doesn’t see it. We talked about this in editing when we were looking at it. It’s Graendal’s viewpoint; she’s summarizing; she doesn’t actually see it. We actually didn’t change it, because I just thought that was, ‘That’s what’s going on; it’s in her viewpoint; she doesn’t see the weaves.’ So, that isn’t an error. Maybe it’s not the clearest writing around, but I felt it was sufficiently clear when I looked at the passage. It got flagged by Maria.
Actually, we did asked for this to be changed for e- and future editions. It should now read "Aran'gar shrugged, but focused as if laying down a thick and complex Compulsion on the unfortunate Ramshalan's mind." The answer is the same, though, really; she saw nothing.
Brandon said there was no way around this as they had to catch Perrin up. Then we asked if there was a chance of getting the last three books re-released with the chapters in chronological order. He said this might be possible as an e-book or maybe a rearranged audiobook. Only the chapter orders would be changed.
You couldn't fit it all in one published book and it would just be weird to have three separate volumes published again with the chapters in different orders. I could totally see an ebook or one huge rearranged audiobook though as something attractive and maybe not too costly to produce that some HCFFs like us would enjoy having.
A couple of things here.
The primary one is that Verin had to work around her oaths, which required her to go through some strange mental gymnastics. She actually tried out different ways of getting this information across, and could never make it work. (In her pouch was actually a letter that said something similar to Mat, but which read "Ignore what I say and open this immediately.) She couldn't pick it up at the moment, however. The oaths were binding. She would either have had to take poison right then, or bet on Mat being too impatient to wait.
Second thing is this, and it's a slight spoiler for the next book. She did build in redundancy.
My question isn't regarding the loophole that she found, the question is as to why make Mat promise to obey the letter. She could have made him promise not to open the letter for three days and still maintained her loophole. It's the promise to obey the letter that makes Mat not read it and now they are in a whole lot of trouble because of it.
Let's just say that Verin...didn't understand Mat as well as she thought that she did.
Will we see Rand in the next book? YES. The book will not be a 100% flash-back like Book 10. There will be a little bit of catch-up for Perrin, but Egwene and Rand both have large parts too.
Is Mat in Towers of Midnight?
Yes. Lots of Mat. Promise.
What happened to Elayne? It seemed she fell off the earth in the last book.
It was tough to decide that Elayne would not appear in The Gathering Storm. I knew we didn't have room for everyone. Thing is, Elayne was way ahead of everyone else in her plotline. (Meaning what she needed to get done.) And so, with great regret, I moved her to Towers of Midnight. She will appear, as will her wonderful Warder.
Will we see Galad in Towers of Midnight?
so far, I'm on record as saying this: Almost everyone who did not appear in The Gathering Storm appears in Towers of Midnight. No promises on anyone other than Main Characters, like Mat/Elayne. But expect to see a lot of people return who didn't appear in The Gathering Storm. Also, Galad happens to be one of my personal favorite characters.
Do we get anything about Shocklances?
I'm pretty late to this party, so if I don't get an answer to my question..no worries...But any chance of Egwene ever putting Cadsuane in her place?
Re: Shocklances (sp? I should really know that one) and Egwene/Cadsuane. Double RAFO. Pow!
WOT questions: Will all three A Memory of Light books feature Rand, Mat, and Perrin?
Short answer: Yes.
Longer answer: They will all three appear in all three books, but it will not be equally balanced. Some characters will be more of a focus in some of the books, and other will be more of a focus in others. This is particularly true of the first two volumes, where I had to juggle which characters would be a focus in one, and which will be a focus in the other.
I tried to keep story arcs contained in a single book. We'll get glimpses from some of the characters in the first book, with a more complete story arc in the second book. And we'll get story arcs in the first book from some characters, followed by glimpses in the second.
The split actually turned out really well. I think I managed to get a balance working where characters don't vanish for entire volumes, but we still get to have complete character arcs.
I really felt I needed to knock this book out of the park. I couldn't just get a base run, I needed to nail it. And to do that, I put some of the most dynamic powerful scenes that I had access to together into the book. The next book is going to be very different in feel and tone because while this book was very focused, the next book we are going to be able to get back to a lot of the characters we haven't heard from. And I won't mention specifically who's going to be in the book, but some that could be. I mean, we haven't heard from Loial in a while, we haven't heard from Padan Fain, we haven't heard from Lan, we haven't heard from the Black Tower. I mean, there's a lot of stuff going on. . . I mean, Pevara, and Logain. . . so much going on that I intentionally didn't do because I wanted this book to be very focused. Next book, we're going to get to all that.
Okay! Alright! So Wetlander and people.
Yes...Are the impressive displays of power that Rand makes in Towers of Midnight (i.e., stopping the Trolloc army and having no concern over being able to leave the White Tower) a result of his integrated knowledge or his ta'veren nature?
Umm...Both, though, one thing you have to keep in mind, is...Rand, as a result of power level...Robert Jordan was specifically not using him very often because his power had grown so powerful even by the end of Knife of Dreams. I mean, you look at Knife of Dreams—if you go reread the fight in Knife of Dreams he is laying waste to nearly as many Trollocs as he has when he does the battle at the temple—which is not actually called that in the books—that's the one with the Trollocs and things [referencing Rand's big single-handed fight in Towers of Midnight]. And so...yes, some of these things have changed, but he's really powerful now.
Now, the thing about in the White Tower is something different. [Brandon smiles]
He, um, believes that he can.
Still, even after the The Gathering Storm reintegration?
He has a more zen view on it now, but he still believes that he can have some influence.
No. Nice try! That's eliminating one theory, I'll give you that one.
Was Aviendha in Tel'aran'rhiod or in a mirror/portal world when she met Nakomi?
Is Nakomi Jenn Aiel?
[laughs and grins] I should RAFO that shouldn't I?
I'd appreciate it if you didn't.
[laughs] I want Nakomi....We're gonna RAFO that for now. Nakomi needs...there's gotta be a few things I don't answer. I'm so bad, I answer everything Robert Jordan put an answer [for, to?] [bunch of people laugh]. Track me down another time, after A Memory of Light is out.
The relationship between artist and critic/fan is a curious one in this regard. On one hand, I do think feedback is important, particularly on a project like this (where, as I've stated, I feel that the project rightly belongs more to the fans than it does to me.) However, a writer must keep their artistic integrity. Allowing yourself to get pulled in too many directions by fan requests can be a disaster for an artist. Basically, you can't try to please everyone—if you do, you risk ending up with either a completely schizophrenic project, or one that is so bland it lacks emotional depth or power.
So, like I said, fine line. I looked at fan responses on The Gathering Storm very cautiously and carefully, trying to keep in the same mindset that I use when getting feedback from my critique group. Basically, that mindset is this: "I will do what I feel is best for the story, regardless of what other people think. Even if I'm the only one who feels that way. But if someone raises a complaint that either strikes a cord within me, or which gains a lot of support from others, I WILL look into it and try to approach it objectively."
That's a mouthful. Basically, what it means is keeping an open mind for ideas that will make the story a better version of what I want it to be. On The Gathering Storm, there were two basic areas I felt fans were right about that I could and should fix. The first had to do with some voice issues in Mat's narrative. (I've spoken of that elsewhere.) The second had to do with continuity errors. I am not nearly as good at dealing with those as Robert Jordan was—I know he made mistakes, but I felt I made more. So for this project, I enlisted the help of some very detail-oriented members of the fan community as beta readers in an attempt to keep myself honest and catch mistakes before they went to press.
There are things in this book, like in any book I've written, that I fully suspect will draw complaints. In some cases, I know exactly what they are—and I did them that way because I felt it was best for the story and the best way to remain true to Robert Jordan's vision. It's the ones that I DON'T expect, but which ring true, that I want to find and correct.
Two things: First, how to juggle a large number of plotlines and viewpoints. (Something I'd failed at in drafts of unpublished books during my earlier years as a writer.) I couldn't afford not to do this well.
Second, I believe I learned a lot about character viewpoint and narrative. (Most of this came from reading Mr. Jordan's books with a much more detailed eye than I'd done in recent years.)
It's been an interesting experience. So far as I know, I'm the only person in the world to have ever read through—beginning to end—the Wheel of Time, starting with Book One and continuing through until I reached the final scenes Robert Jordan wrote before he passed away. (Maria might have done it, but I don't think so—she pretty much has the books memorized by now, and seems to spot-read more than she reads straight through.)
This is an experience others will start having in the coming years, and perhaps they'll agree with me that it DOES change the series. First off, you gain a better appreciation for Robert Jordan's ability to foreshadow. Second, the slow parts don't seem so slow any longer, particularly as you see books seven through fourteen as being one large novel.
In The Gathering Storm, Egwene was mostly RJ, Rand mostly Brandon. In Towers of Midnight, Mat mostly RJ, Perrin mostly Brandon.
For the love of good things, tell me who kills Asmodean?
Real question: Mistborn surprised me with its intensity. I didn't think that it would have as big of an impact on me that it did, and for writing it, thank you.
How long do things cook in your mind before you put them on paper?
When you write something as beautiful as "I am hope." Does it give you the chills? Where does something like that come from? I am just so fucking amazed that, even though I knew of his past with his wife and the mines, that you could make me think he was just doing it for greed reasons... then you bust out with this and I was floored. It cemented the entire trilogy for me. With that one line, I will forever buy anything you write.
The Asmodean killer is revealed in Towers of Midnight. (Look in the glossary.)
How long things cook depends on the project. Some, like The Way of Kings, cook for decades. Mistborn was a period of about 2-3 years. Others, like my children's series, are exercises in free writing with very little 'incubation' time give.
As for the last question...sometimes, it's hard to pinpoint how things come together, even for a planner like myself. I often compare writing to playing music. Often, a musician gets to the point where they don't know why their fingers move as they do—through a great deal of training, they learn to just make it happen. Writers develop similar instincts, but for plot, character, and prose.
Oh, you mean the fat man with... no, wait that was Rand....
Yeah, Moiraine’s one was an ivory woman.
Yeah, yeah. You know, that’s a good question, because it’s odd, the notes specifically said she got the angreal as one of her wishes...
Ah, so it’s definitely not the angreal Lanfear had? People have asked, I think because both were bracelets.
No, it’s definitely a different angreal. But yes, if she had another angreal, why would she ask for one?
Maybe the Finns took her original one. I mean she was naked when they found her, so they took...
Yeah, maybe *looks dubious*.
Or maybe it’s still in Cairhien with the rest of her stuff.
Yeah, but it would still be odd, that she’d ask, if she had another. Yeah, so, I don’t know, sorry.
When we were in the Green Room Brandon broached a subject of his own, in Asmodean, stating he wanted to explain how that happened. Basically, Jim left a note saying ‘fit it in’, and when they were initially discussing how to do it Brandon threw out as more of a joke than anything else ‘just put it in the glossary’. Harriet apparently loved that idea, and when it came time for Brandon to write, he did lay it out in a Graendal POV [note: I can’t remember if he said it was in an outline for a POV, or whether he actually wrote it] Harriet wrote back in her notes ‘no, no, we’re going to put that in the glossary.’ Brandon himself definitely seemed to have wanted the information laid out in scene, and said there were actually a couple of scenes he thought he could have done it in.
They still argue about it anyway, you know.
*laughs* Yeah, well, you know Jim himself never wrote it out. There was just that email a fan had sent him, you know the...
The Sherlock Holmes one?
Yeah, just that with a note saying 'this is it'. Everything else...
Hah. Yeah, I never really cared about Asmodean.
Me either, really. Until I went on the boards, and everyone was discussing it.
Yeah, now they have the debate about whether Tam and Cadsuane are going to get married.
*shudders* Yeah, I’ve... ah... heard that one.
Brandon again spoke of Aviendha and the Aiel, due to the way they think, mentioning how he went through several drafts and back and forths with Harriet, whilst doing multiple re-reads of Aviendha’s POVs.
Then he spoke of Mat, saying that Mat is such a complicated character, though you might not think he is at first glance. He is an unreliable narrator, with vast differences between how he thinks and how he acts, and that Jim’s Mat POV’s are some of the best in the series. He then spoke of his own writing and that because of these elements it’s easy to miss things with Mat, and that that is why his early scenes in The Gathering Storm are not as good as his scenes in Towers of Midnight, where Brandon began to ‘get him’. Brandon finished by saying he’s best in A Memory of Light.
Myrelle wasn't inside the grounds. They had been locked out.
This one should have been caught on my filters. Realised it as soon as it came out.
This isn't actually the answer; this is the problem. Why is there a silence when the Rebel embassy can be easily reached by gateway and vice versa? To quote Romanda, "They should have at least sent word. This silence is disturbing." That was the point behind the question—why is there such a big deal made when Nynaeve could reach them without fuss?
Brandon drew a graph of A Memory of Light's structure and explained in some details how he ended up re structuring it as three books. Not much that isn't already known in there, book 12 will have two main story lines (we know it's Rand and Egwene, but as I said Brandon didn't say so explicitly at the Q&A) and teasers for three more (Mat—and seemingly Perrin and Elayne). By 'teasers', Brandon precised he means 3 or 4 chapters per story line, the rest of the chapters being divided between the two main story lines (by recent books, this could means Egwene/Rand have about 10-12 chapters each, or a few more). Some developments happen in the teasers but it's not huge stuff, more like set ups chapters for what happens in book 13.
Book 13 will have the opposite, with 3-4 chapters each for Egwene and Rand, "toward the end". Brandon kept those for book 13 to avoid spoiling in The Gathering Storm the climax of book 13, which will mark the reunion of all the main story lines at some location, and launch Tarmon Gai'don. So in book 13 we will have the residual Rand/Egwene chapters that specifically build up to the reunion.
Brandon explained the decision to split the books this way came about between Harriet and him, in part to avoid the "Crossroads of Twilight trap". Apparently, RJ went that way in Winter's Heart/Crossroads of Twilight mostly because he had been affected by all the grief he got for keeping Mat out of The Path of Daggers. He decided to try to put all the main characters in the next books, even if it meant all the story lines would advance more slowly if they were all told in parallel like this. He very much regretted this after Crossroads of Twilight, for which he got even more grief than for The Path of Daggers, and decided to return to his more organic/uneven approach for Knife of Dreams and A Memory of Light. The original plan for The Gathering Storm was to develop all the story lines in parallel again, but Brandon and Harriet had qualms about this and Brandon came up with an alternative to focus on two story lines in one and three in the other.
There is one of the 'POV clusters' Brandon had written that it mostly unused for The Gathering Storm and will go in book 13.
Brandon of course wouldn't tell who is the character not in The Gathering Storm at all, though he gave a few clues. Piecing all his bits of answers together, the character isn't Aviendha, Cadsuane or Nynaeve, nor Mat (the only character he confirmed is in the two first books, but we already knew this). He basically destroyed the speculation it could be Perrin by hesitating on the words 'major character' and then adding the bit that the vast majority of fans would actually place this character at the very bottom of the list of characters to be considered 'major'. The way he put Elayne over and over among the five really major ones during the Q&A suggests it's not her either after all. He also said while explaining his graph that there were chunks (his "teasers" for three story lines in The Gathering Storm and the core of the story for two—and his 'five' clusters he explicitly said were Rand, Egwene, Perrin, Mat and Elayne.
So perhaps we've read too much in his 'major POV character' comment (Jason's review may also allude to this, when he commented that one major character is missing but it's pretty much up to each reader to decide who is major and not in WOT). At some point, he said a major POV character in A Memory of Light will be missing in The Gathering Storm, which is not exactly the same as saying a major POV character from the earlier books isn't in The Gathering Storm—which is the way his previous comment was interpreted by many.
Lan isn't a major POV character in the earlier books, but now he's on his own he may very well become one in A Memory of Light.
In any case, I'm more and more thinking it's Lan (or possibly Moiraine), not Elayne or Perrin which I doubt many would place 'at the very bottom' of the list of characters to be considered major. Most people would place Elayne not near the bottom at all but among the top 7 or 8 most important characters. Above Moiraine and Lan, Thom, Loial and probably even Min and Aviendha.
To paraphrase, he stated that he wants to keep the specifics of what happened close to the chest for now, and that he has not decided whether he will address it in the next book.
The fact that Brandon may leave the identity of Nakomi unanswered makes me doubt that it was either Verin or one of the Forsaken. I am much more inclined to think that it was either a result of Aviendha camping next to a Portal Stone, or a "ghostly" encounter. As I told Brandon, I hope he leaves the issue unresolved. I like the sense of mystery behind this scene. :)
I asked Brandon about the chapter with Aviendha and Nakomi. I stated that it was a very striking encounter, and it reminded me thematically of the meeting with Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings, i.e., something mysterious an unexplained. I asked him if he would develop the encounter any further. He stated that he did not want to discuss the character any further at the moment, because he might explore the encounter in A Memory of Light. I told him that I hope he never explains Nakomi. ;)
-first- Rumors: he said that rumors are just rumors. About Trolloc attacks, specifically, he said that "Trollocs have been attacking, or invading in various places for months" and that rumors abound in all sorts of forms about them.
With regard to the White Tower attack—I prompted this one a little, and he said that they are simply rumors which have coalesced from multiple rumors together, nothing related specifically to the real attack adding that "in the Wheel of Time rumors sometimes have a tendency to double back on themselves" turning into truth eventually.
As for the horse riding in Caemlyn, I asked him specifically about Rand seeing Mat and Thom on horses in Caemlyn, but Mat in Chapter 8 was not taking his horse into the city, and he responded by saying that Rand didn't see Mat in this specific scene and assured me that all that would work out in the rest of the book.
He did admit that there has been one "hitch" found in The Gathering Storm as per chronology that will be changed in upcoming editions. If I remember correctly he said Mat is roughly two weeks behind where he was meant to be and explained that Mat's position in time at the end of The Gathering Storm was supposed to be two weeks earlier than it was portrayed as being.
Well—this is something I'd like to understand better—and hear it verbatim. I'm not sure I understand what is being said by the reporter.
This means that something currently in The Gathering Storm needed to be retconned to get the timeline to work and will be changed in future editions of The Gathering Storm. Unfortunately, there wasn't time to get it changed in the paperback that's coming out this month. I'm guessing the change will affect only a sentence or two.
Retconning was a last resort that they really didn't want to have to take, but it was unavoidable.
Team Jordan has a very detailed chronology that looks in many respects similar to Steven Cooper's chronology, but Steven's is a bit off in a few areas. Certain beta readers helped verify it was nailed down.
And Terez: It doesn't have to do with Sulin. Actually, they decided Sulin needed to be retconned earlier. You can find out in the paperback of The Gathering Storm how that was worked out.
He wanted to include him in The Gathering Storm. He then said he 'may or may not have been' writing about him on the train ride on the way to the signing!
So, pretty much confirmation that Fain will be in book 13! Where do you all think he is? My friend thinks he is posing as an agent from the Dark One and manipulating Taim in the Black Tower.
That's what you answered for Book 12. I'm asking about Book 13, which I've already read.
Everyone in line close your ears. The whole Tower of Ghenjei sequence. That was all written by Jim. Also, the surprise proposal at the end.
But I've already read Book 13; that's why I'm asking.
RAFO after A Memory of Light.
So, I didn't get to ask many questions. I spent lunch with Brandon, but pestering him with questions seemed inappropriate at the time and the Q&A was after his reading/book signing which I had to leave early.
But two things he did say.
One, recently he read an email a fan sent; this particular fan picked the right small detail. Two—I asked him regarding the big impact of the small detail and he said we have been discussing this big event, which I felt he implied that we (fandom) have been discussing this big event for a long time.
As to other questions, I plan to attend DragonCon, so I recommend we get a list of questions together for that event (still have three months).
Warning: Potential spoilers for the entire Mistborn Series, if you do not want to know, do not read ahead!
I was one of the Chicago Storm Leaders, and was able to ask some questions of Brandon before the signing itself, most everything was repeated at the signing at one point or another, except for one detail; Brandon mentioned a tidbit about Towers of Midnight.
There is a very small detail in books 4-6, not sure which one that will end up playing a huge role in Towers of Midnight (might end up being in A Memory of Light, but pretty sure he said Towers of Midnight). This is on a scale of Vin's earring in Mistborn, with how that was such a minor detail touched on in book one, and ended up being the key detail that saved the day in the end. That kind of small detail.
So, go nuts with your speculation folks.
"...including one thing is secretly hidden in the books for books and books and books, and I haven't been able to find a hint that any of the fan communities have even gotten a whiff it, which is awesome, because they get a whiff of almost everything. And it is really going to be a shocker when it happens, but it is going to be one of those shockers that people are going to slap their foreheads, why haven't we been talking about this for twelve years..."
So—while I find it hard to believe that none of us have found it, or discussed it even in our geekiest "out in left field" craziness, like Mat being the Dark One's Pawn, it sounds like something fun to be on the lookout for over the next year.
Seems to me almost insulting...if we don't or haven't found it.
I debated writing this because you seem like a genuinely nice guy who cares about his fans, and I don't want to hurt your feelings. If you find it difficult to read criticism, please don't read any further.
To be honest, I am hoping that you won't write the outriggers/prequels because it seems to me like your heart's just not in it anymore. In 2011 you announced that you needed time off to reread the entire series before starting work on A Memory of Light since you'd forgotten too much and this had led to continuity issues in Towers of Midnight. But according to your own website, you only reread a third of the series, then went on to work on Alloy of Law, Legion, The Emperor's Soul, The Rithmatist... As someone who enjoyed Way of Kings a great deal, I'm glad that you've continued to work on your own books, but the fact that you abandoned the reread does make me worry about the quality of A Memory of Light. If you cannot give WoT as much time and attention as it needs, it's better to let it go.
Another big issue for me is the characterization. You're great at writing Perrin and also did a good job with Rand and the girls for the most part. Others felt off, and that unfortunately includes the main characters the outriggers and prequels would focus on. I'll leave out Mat since that's been discussed to death already, but Lan and Moiraine's scenes in Towers of Midnight were a huge disappointment for me. Lan has always been a favorite of mine, but here he came off as a whiny combination of Gawyn and Perrin. He's a grown man in his late 40s, not a sulky teenager.
Then there's Moiraine, now ready to give up all her power if only Thom tells her to. Yes, her captivity undoubtedly changed her, but at her core, she is someone who was ready to sacrifice everyone and everything to win the Last Battle, including herself. So it didn't seem right for Moiraine to offer to give up an important tool like the angreal.
""Egwene, I know what you feel for Rand, but you must realize by now that nothing can come of it. He belongs to the Pattern, and to history."—Moiraine, The Shadow Rising
For an instant she regretted sending Thom away. She did not like having to waste her time with these petty affairs. But he had too much influence with Rand; the boy had to depend on her counsel. Hers, and hers alone.—Moiraine, The Shadow Rising
That had been one of Moiraine's more succinct bits of advice. Never let them see you weaken.—Rand, Lord of Chaos
I happen to like Moiraine a lot, but there's no denying she was partly responsible for Rand thinking he needed to be hard. Yet in Towers of Midnight you have Rand speak of how caring she was; even Mat and Nynaeve sing her praises. You seem to be trying to retcon Moiraine into a saintly figure she never was. All WoT characters have major flaws; Moiraine's was that she treated people as chess pieces that sometimes needed to be sacrificed for the greater good. In The Shadow Rising she intentionally tried to separate Rand from his friends so she could be the only person influencing him. It wasn't until Rhuidean that she discovered firsthand what it felt like to be the person forced to make the ultimate sacrifice, and she finally became the advisor Rand needed. But even then she was still manipulating him and encouraging him to be hard, so obviously she hadn't changed completely. To ignore her flaws and mistakes is to do the character a disservice and hides her growth in The Fires of Heaven.
This is getting long, so I'll wrap it up here. I hope this made sense and that I didn't hurt your feelings. I still think you're a very talented writer and look forward to reading both A Memory of Light and the next Stormlight book.
Well, thanks for the thoughts. I will take the comments for what they are worth, and appreciate your sincerity.
By way of correction, I do want to point out that Alloy of Law, Legion, and The Rithmatist were all written BEFORE I started work on A Memory of Light. The only thing I've written during A Memory of Light was The Emperor's Soul, which is a short work I wrote on the flight home from Taiwan earlier in the year. I have always stopped my main projects for side ones. It is part of what keeps me fresh. Alcatraz was in the middle of Mistborn, Rithmatist in the middle of Liar of Partinel (which I decided not to publish; it was the last book I wrote before the WoT came my way.) Legion was during Towers of Midnight. Emperor's Soul during A Memory of Light.
My heart is completely in it—that I can assure you. I stopped the re-read because I was just too eager to be working on the book, and I'd already re-read (the last year) books 9-11 in working to get Perrin and Mat down for Towers of Midnight. But your complaint is valid. I did not re-read 6-8, except for spot reading. I kept telling myself I needed to get to them, but I was too deeply into the writing by that point.
As for where I misfired on characterization, I apologize. In some cases, I don't see them the same way as you do. In other cases, I am doing a worse job than RJ would have, and the failings are mine. I don't want to diminish your opinion, as it is valid. I certainly have struggled with some characters more than others.
Though, for the scene with Moiraine and Thom you quote above...I, uh, didn't write that scene, my friend. That one was RJ in its entirety, and was one of the most complete scenes he left behind.
Brandon, thank you for the thoughtful response. I understand that it's very difficult for most authors to read criticism (let alone reply to it), so I appreciate that you took the time to read and reply.
I'd like to stress that I wholeheartedly agree with Neil Gaiman's "GRRM is not your bitch" post and hope it didn't come across like I thought you shouldn't be working on anything besides WoT. Side projects are very much a good thing (happy and creative authors→better books), and I am personally excited about your upcoming books. It was mainly the fact that you seemed to have given up on the reread that felt like a reason for concern since you had previously said you needed to refresh your memory to avoid a repeat of Towers of Midnight's continuity errors. It also made me worry that you had gotten weary of working on A Memory of Light, which would have been understandable given that it's a very time-consuming and demanding project that you've already spent 4-5 years on. I'm glad to hear this is not the case.
"In some cases, I don't see them the same way as you do."
That's not something I object to since we all have different perceptions of the characters. In most cases I understand where you are coming from even if your interpretation differs somewhat from mine. Unlike me, you also have access to all sorts of character notes and spoilers about their futures.
However, in some cases it felt like your personal love or dislike of certain characters also played a strong role. To put it bluntly, it's easy to tell that Perrin, Egwene and Moiraine are your favorites since they've received a disproportionate amount of PoVs or praise from other characters, Egwene in particular (how many scenes do we need where people talk about how brilliant, clever and talented Egwene is?). I don't know how much you follow other WoT boards, but there's been a lot of debate in fandom as to whether Egwene has become too much of a Mary Sue-type character who easily defeats supposedly shrewd political opponents and is constantly praised by other characters, often at the expense of people like Siuan. It's impossible for a writer to remain completely objective, and your background as a fan is on the whole one of your biggest strengths, but sometimes things like that can feel jarring. I would not want to see the same happen to a complex, flawed and interesting character like Moiraine.
"Though, for the scene with Moiraine and Thom you quote above...I, uh, didn't write that scene, my friend. That one was RJ in its entirety, and was one of the most complete scenes he left behind."
I have to admit, this comes as a surprise to me, partly because of Moiraine's seemingly uncharacteristic offer to surrender almost all her power for Thom's sake and partly because she used contractions in this scene (in the New Spring graphic novel, there's a note from Jordan informing the comic writers that Moiraine never uses contractions). She and Thom seemed to have a mutual respect and attraction in the early books, but spent very little time together, so I would not have expected any full-blown love or a marriage proposal at this point. It just seemed very strange for Moiraine to be willing to sacrifice her only chance at regaining her strength when she's barely even thought about Thom in her PoVs before. But since Jordan wrote that scene, there's nothing to do but accept that it's where he wanted to take the characters.
Re: Contractions Interesting story here. Harriet and Team Jordan worried about my use of contractions in places that RJ did not. It seemed very striking to them. Their first instinct was to go through and change it, after the fact, in order to match RJ's style.
Harriet didn't like how that looked. She felt that my style needed to be blended with RJ's, rather than taking my style and forcing it to fit into something else. So it was decided that one of her tasks, as editor, would be to blend the writing after it was put together. She'd go through and make scenes feel right together, and would blend the two styles like a painter blending paint.
So, she takes away contractions from me where she feels they need to go and she actually adds them to RJ's writing where she thinks it needs to be blended. I was curious if that was the case here, so I went back to the original notes.
And it turns out RJ wrote the scene with contractions. Most likely, he was planning to trim them out with editing. Remember, even the most complete scenes we have from him are first drafts. In fact, in some of them, the tense is wrong. (Much of this Moiraine/Thom/Mat scene is in present tense. )
An example from the notes is:
He puts the angreal on her wrist, and says 'I'll marry you now.'
In revision, this line turned into:
He put the bracelet back on her wrist. "I'll marry you now, if you wish it."
Anyway, I don't want to spend too much time defending myself, because that's not the point of your post. Really, the most important thing for me to say is that I understand. I'll do my best, and criticism like this is important to me. (Particularly on the Wheel of Time books, where I feel that listening to fan direction is important for gauging how well I'm doing on the characters.) It was fan criticism that brought me around to finally seeing what I was doing wrong with Mat, and (hopefully) making some strides toward writing him more accurate to himself.
One of the things that...okay, blasphemy: I've only read through the series once.
At least you've read through it once...Jimmy.
Anyway, in some of these later books, one of the biggest issues that I had was when the timeline got fractured, and there was a period of time when I was fully convinced that there was a Darkfriend impersonating Tam. It just had me really confused. What lessons did you learn from that experience as you're gonna carry forward into your future writing?
The timeline fracture in Towers of Midnight came because of the book split, and what needed to go in one book, had to go in...you know, and things like that, and after the fact of releasing The Gathering Storm, we had Towers of Midnight sitting there, and I hadn't finished Towers of Midnight completely, I'd written like...I'd basically, when we split it, I'd written one...like, Perrin almost all the way through, but not other sequences all the way through and things, and we released The Gathering Storm, and we had to like fix things in The Gathering Storm, when we were getting in that, we realized, "Oh no..." I mean, the timeline is fine, but it means that Tam has to jump back in time. And this was going to be a bit of a challenge even if the book were whole, because Robert Jordan had them off of time with one another at the start of The Gathering Storm; Perrin was several months behind everyone else. And so, once you start bringing people back together, you either had to...we either had to do some things like walls fall on them, which was famously how Jim got Mat back in sync with everybody else, when he'd been behind, is a wall fell on him, and then he left him for several months for him to heal, and then we come back, and Mat's like, "Man, I hated having that wall fall on me!" (laughter)
"Good thing that was three months ago; I'm better now!"
Yeah. And that was the way that Robert Jordan, since people get off track from each other...some of the things you kind of have to do. I had to get Perrin stuck in the mud for a while. (laughter) Yeah. And this is just to get everyone synced up, and the Tam sync-up, as a writer, I think what I learned is, I think of timelines a little differently. Like I, being deep in the series and working on it, I knew where everyone was, and I'm like, "Everyone will know that we're flashing back to Perrin here." But of course not everyone knows that; they're not all following the timeline; they don't know that we're starting this book two months before The Gathering Storm ended, so to bring them back on track, that's why Tam ended up in two places at once, because he wasn't in two places at once; they were off track from one another, time-wise. And I guess I would just take more consideration of the fact that not everyone is steeped in the timelines like I am, and knowing where everyone is, and things like that, and I would have tried to find a better cue for the fact that we've jumped backward in time.
"Three months earlier..."
Yes. "Three months ago..."
"...back when dinosaurs ruled the earth..."
Oh, I'm TOTALLY gonna RAFO that. Come ON! Come on. You KNEW I was gonna RAFO that. That's very important to the book.
Okay, related: Moridin says 'the one who is punished the most'. Obviously that's gotta be Cyndane, right?
Okay, yes. That is Cyndane.
So, is it possible that what happened in the epilogue, she was really going through that torture?
You will have to see it. RAFO. Okay, like someone [?] related. I don't think, by the way...when you read the book, what Cyndane is up to should be of paramount importance to you, and DO NOT believe everything that you think happens in the book.
From her point of view, or from our point of view?
From your point of view, regarding her.
It will be very hard to do simply because, you know, you would have a lot of sentences that would four colors in them (laughter), because, here are three words from Brandon; here are a couple of words from Robert Jordan; the rest are from Harriet, that she has edited, and then here's the insertion by Maria as she's doing the copy-edit, that something needed to be [put] in. It would be very difficult to get right.
The other thing is, Harriet has several times expressed a reluctance to let people see the notes because she doesn't want people focusing when reading the books on what was me and what is Jim. I do still kinda tend to work on her and see if I can get her to let us do something with the notes. I'm not too expectant—if it doesn't happen I'm gonna be fine—but I tend to ask on behalf of the fans, people like yourself, and if I can do that I can then bring them out and I will talk a little bit more about that.
One thing that I've said to people a number of times, that in each of the three books there is a prologue [scene] that Robert Jordan wrote almost completely, or completely, for the prologue of the book, then since we split it in three, I took one scene from each completely that is Robert Jordan's—and there are a few fragments in each prologue as well that were also his—but there's one complete scene in the prologue. In the first book, it was the farmer sitting on the doorsteps watching the storm; that was one of the scenes he dictated, and we actually at JordanConI got to listen to that dictation. In the second book it was the Borderlander tower with the soldier and his son; that was one of the more complete scenes we had from Robert Jordan which had some minimal revision and editing during the process but was basically a complete scene that he gave us. And there's one like that in the third book as well.
In The Gathering Storm, I've said before that, as the notes went, Rand was a little more me; there were fewer notes on Rand. There were more notes on Egwene. We're both involved in all the viewpoints, but Rand from that is a little more me, and Egwene's a little more Robert Jordan, and then in Towers of Midnight, Perrin's a little bit more me, and Mat is a little more Robert Jordan. And maybe we'll be able to release more than that, but so far that's about all I've said. There are certain scenes that he did write, by the way—I'll give you everything; this is what I've told people; I haven't told people much—but there's a certain scene in The Gathering Storm where Egwene has an unexpected meeting with an old friend in the Tower. That one was done by Robert Jordan. And in Towers of Midnight, there is...most of the Mat stuff including the ending where a certain engagement happens was Robert Jordan.
For clarification, did you ever feel like a character should experience something that Mr Jordan hadn't mentioned or had clearly discouraged? Or feel that something should happen that Mr Jordan hadn't conceived or didn't want?
Nynaeve's Aes Sedai test was one of my favorite parts of Towers of Midnight, so I'm glad that was included, but it would be interesting to know whether RJ changed his mind or it was Brandon/Team Jordan's idea to include that.
This one was me. I realize he hadn't intended to do it, but he always reserved the right to change his mind on things like this. (If you read what he had to say on the last word of the book, for example, he said he thought he knew what it was—but that he might change that at any time.)
In working on the outlines, I felt it would feel strange not to show this. The challenge was to do it in a way that wasn't simply a repetition of what Mr. Jordan had shown in New Spring. I felt if I could make the experience unique, it would have a place in the novel—and if it did not, I would need to cut it. I felt good with the way it turned out, and it indeed found a place in the novel.
So you're the one responsible for the braid being singed off! Murderer!
I think it made a great addition to the book. Nynaeve's my favorite character, and I've always found it unfortunate that we haven't gotten too many POVs from her since she got married in A Crown of Swords. So it was great to see scenes that showed just how much she's grown since, while still remaining the same person at heart. The references to Nynaeve's greatest fears—spiders and heights—were very neat too. Thank you for giving the test a place in the novel.
So how long is the series going to be? RJ's answers from 95–06
Friend of mine posted this on Dragonmount and I got a kick out of it, a timeline of RJ's estimates on just how many books the series was going to be:
He still isn't sure how long WoT will go on for, saying probably seven books but adding that when The Eye of the World first came out he saw the series as four books.
"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.'"
"It will last several more books, until I reach the last scene, which has been in my head since the very beginning."
"I do hope there will not be ten books all told. I'm planning for eight, at present, and hope very strongly that I can wrap it all up in that length."
He said he writes as the ideas come and he has no clue as to how long the series will be!
"I knew from the start that I was writing something that would be multiple books. I just never knew how many, exactly."
Not only did he decline to set the number of future WoT books, but he denied ever setting a number and says he never planned it to be only a trilogy. But he seemed to indicate he was planning 9-10 books total. When faced with the prospect of about twelve books, his wife threatened to divorce him and his editor began to make jokes about the Irish Mafia.
"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."
"I've stopped saying how many more books there will be."
"At one time, I did hope for eight; now I don't think so. I certainly hope (Please, God!) it doesn't go to ten books, but I have stopped saying anything except that I will write until I reach the last scene of the last book, which scene has been in my head from the beginning."
"There will be a few more books, some, not a lot, hopefully fewer than seven more."
"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."
1997"There will be at least three more books. I'm not saying that there will be ONLY three. I'm saying that I can't finish in fewer than three."
"I believe—believe!—there will be three more books. I am trying to finish up as soon as possible, but I cannot see how to do it in fewer than three books. That isn't a guarantee, mind! In the beginning, I thought that there would be three or perhaps four books total, but it might go to five, or even six, though I really didn't believe it would take that long. It wasn't a matter of the story growing or expanding, but rather that I miscalculated—brother, did I!—how long it would take to get from the beginning to the end. I've known the last scene of the last book literally from the beginning. That was the first scene that occurred to me. Had I written it out 10 years ago, and then did so again today, the wording might be different, but not what happens. It has just taken me longer to get there than I thought."
"When I finished A Crown of Swords, I said it would take me at least three books more to finish. Now that I have completed The Path of Daggers, it looks like it will take me at least three more books to finish. Believe me, guys, I'm trying as hard as I can to get there as fast as I can."
"I don't 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."
"Remember, after A Crown of Swords I said at least three more books....the same thing I say now."
The usual "at least three more books" was mentioned several times in an increasingly loud voice.
"I am only asked that question by about 300 people a day. The answer is that there will be at least three more books. At least. As I said earlier, I know everything that I want to happen and I have known the last scene of the last book for fifteen years. I also know that I cannot get everything that I want to happen into less than three more books. So that's where we stand at the moment."
Firstly, RJ said three more books "at least" and that he'd try to do it in three if he could, but he couldn't promise it would be only three. And he said he thought it would take "at least five years".
"Sigh! At least three more. I know I've said that before, but it's still the case."
"It still sits at three more books to finish, but I've always said from the time I began using the three books that it would be AT LEAST three books—that I'd try to finish in at least three books, but I couldn't promise. I know that I couldn't possibly finish in fewer than three. If I can finish in three, I will. But that's what I'm hoping for, what I'm trying for. NOT a promise."
"There is no set number. It takes as much space as it takes."
The next book will be out very soon after he's finished writing it. He don't know how many more books there'll be. At least three. If he can finish it in three, he will.
There will be no more than five, but also no less than another three books to be expected to appear in The Wheel of Time series.
"There will be at least three more books. The next book will be in bookstores very shortly after I finish writing it, and Michael Jordan is my kid brother whom I taught to play basketball."
"After Crossroads of Twilight, there will be two more books, knock wood, God willing and the creek don't rise. I never intended The Wheel of Time to be this long. The story is progressing the way I planned, but from the beginning I believed I could tell it in many fewer words, many fewer volumes."
"I think twelve."—Harriet
When asked "how many more books?", which of course met great laughter, he responded that he had started the process intending to have only five or six. Now on book 10, he remarked that he would complete the series in two more books if at all possible. If not, then three.
Jordan showed up around 7, and gave a little speech. He said there will be at least two books, and that he will not write a word more than he has to."How many more books will there be? There will be at least two more books. I apologize for that. I cannot finish it in fewer books. I will try to finish it in two more. I have known the last scene of the last book since 1984. I know where I'm going. The problem is...[my tape is once again inaudible and this was one of the few parts of his speech I could not hear, sorry gang]. That's about it."
"I really hope—knock wood, spit over your shoulder, and sacrifice to the gods—that I can finish up in twelve books total. We shall see."
"No, at least two more books, I'm afraid....I've had some people say they'd like five or ten, but I generally throw something at them."
"I hope—please God, are you listening?—that there will be only two more books in the main sequence."
"I very much hope to finish in two more main sequence books. It's not an absolute promise, but I'm very much hoping for it and I think I can do it."
"I sincerely hope it will be possible to tie everything up in two books."
There is only one book left in the series but it will be a doozy. He will fight to prevent it from being "George R.R. Martined," or split for publication.
"I am committed it is going to be 12 books, even if it is fifteen hundred pages long and it requires you to bring a luggage cart to get it out of the store. Bring your knapsack, you may need it, because no matter what the case that is going to be it."
"One more—the twelfth book. That will be so even if that book has to be 2000 pages in hardcover, and require a luggage cart and shoulder strap to get it out of the store."
"I have said it before and will say it again. There will be one more book. Even if it has to be a 1500 page book. It will be the last book even if you have to use a luggage cart to move it."
"For Segovia, my intention is finish with twelve books, and that may mean that the last book will be VERY long, but I really can't say how long it will take me to write. My publisher is always trying to get me to commit to a time frame. I just do a little sand dance until he goes away. I carry a small bottle of sand with me in New York for exactly that purpose."
Book Twelve will end the main sequence if he has to personally go to New York and beat the publishers at Tor, even if it runs two thousand pages and they have to invent a new way to bind the books (shudder). There will be two more prequels a la New Spring, and there might—very big MIGHT—be another trilogy in the same universe.
First, "the next book will be out very shortly after I'm done writing it." Next, "the next book will be the last book, even if it's 2000 pages, and you need a luggage cart to carry it out of the bookstore."
"Can we all say it together? One more book. I don't care if it has to be 2000 pages and you have to wheel it out the door. One more book."
"After Knife of Dreams, there's going to be one more main-sequence Wheel of Time novel, working title A Memory of Light. It may be a 2,000-page hardcover that you'll need a luggage cart and a back brace to get out of the store. (I think I could get Tor to issue them with a shoulder strap embossed with the Tor logo, since I've already forced them to expand the edges of paperback technology to nearly a thousand pages!) Well, it probably won't be that long, but if I'm going to make it a coherent novel it's all got to be in one volume."
Ah, and what a marvelous 2,000 page book it would have been. I was really shooting for this. Turns out, however, that I don't have the influence that RJ did, and couldn't persuade the publisher that printing a 2,000+ page book was viable. You'll have to be satisfied with three 800 pagers instead.
I do kind of hope we'll be able to do a cut of the volume in ebook where I weave the three books back into one, which would fix some of the timeline confusion in Towers of Midnight, which was the big casualty of the split.
(I knew that, in all likelihood, a split would be mandated, and so I prepared for it by deciding on the three book split instead of a two book split, as I feel it fit the narrative flow better. However, I was working on Perrin when the first split happened, and didn't realize until afterward that by jumping back to the beginning of his story after finishing The Gathering Storm, I was going to create the issues it did with Tam.)
So you're planning on doing a Phantom Edit of your own work? I, for one, would be really interested to read something like this, but I think that what you lost in chronological clarity in the split, you gained in pacing and narrative clarity.
That said, you mentioned in a previous interview that The Gathering Storm's intensity also came from an awareness that your first effort in the Wheel of Time really needed to be a home run. Would your decisions regarding the narrative structure have changed if you didn't feel that pressure?
I wouldn't consider it a phantom edit, as I wouldn't be removing sections. I'd be moving them around, adding in a few deleted scenes. More like an extended edition mixed with pacing tweak.
I don't know how my decisions might have changed if I hadn't felt that pressure. I might have chosen to do Rand/Perrin in the first book and Egwene/Mat in the second book. Perrin/Mat have great stories in TofM—but they're not as focused as the ones for Rand/Egwene. I don't know. The timeline might have been even worse.
This is something I'd have to play with, if I were actually to attempt it, to even see if the narrative flow would work that direction now that I've made writing decisions with three books—instead of one—being the reality.
Now that I've finished reading A Memory of Light, I have to say, I think this would be an insane task. Mostly, The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight would be the things caught up in reorganizing, since A Memory of Light's timeline is internally consistent enough to justify things. It would also let you sprinkle the Black Tower POVs a bit more nicely throughout the trilogy, since the frontloading of that plot at the beginning of A Memory of Light is one of the few structural weaknesses I thought I saw.
In any case, congratulations! You've really done it! Those annotations will be fascinating, assuming you get permission to take it on.
You're right on the Black Tower structural weakness. I actually plotted that sequence to go all in Towers of Midnight, but ran up against deadlines and only did a few chapters of it. It would work far better moved earlier.
Thanks for reading. I'll see what I can do about annotations.
That makes a lot of sense. One gets the feeling that a lot of your writing was done with several different forces tugging you one way or another; collaboration can be tough, especially for artists who are used to working in the silence of their mind, and I can't imagine adding a massive fandom to that.
Seriously: congrats. Tai'shar...Utah? :)
Tai'shar Nebraska, actually. But I like Utah well enough. :)
Together, Brandon Sanderson and Team Jordan began building the strategy for finishing the last volume for the Wheel of Time.
Well, he was working with everything Robert Jordan had ever written, including all the notes and speculations, as well as the outline that Jordan dictated in those last weeks.
He intended this book to be enormous. Getting the notes, I said, yup, it's here. I can do this, but it's going to be over 2000 pages long. At some point Tor and Harriet discussed how long it was going. And so that's when they came to me and said, "We want to split it."
This outline was too complex. There was too much that needed to be told, too much story.
We didn't add to it. This is the length that it was always going to be. But in splitting it—what it allowed us to do is take three books and focus them. The Gathering Storm has a focus on Rand and Egwene. They were able to shine in a much more spectacular way because of that. And the things happening with Mat and Perrin could have very easily been overshadowed by Rand and Egwene, who have monumentous things going on.
These last two books—number one best sellers. Number one international best sellers, number one up here on the Globe and Mail, as well, the national paper. People read and realized that, yes, it wasn't Robert Jordan, but by god it was being finished properly. And it was being finished from Robert Jordan's notes and his ideas, and Brandon's talent was that he could capture the dream.
What was Brandon given to start his work?
He received one scene from each prologue—the first scene from The Gathering Storm that was dictated, the Kandori tower scene from Towers of Midnight, and one scene from A Memory of Light that I will not state since it contains a spoiler. There were large chunks of the ending, including the entire epilogue. He received fragments of Egwene's visit from her "special visitor" inThe Gathering Storm, and a proposal at the end of Towers of Midnight. There were also discussions of scenes, and answers from Team Jordan.
(to Melissa) Cool t-shirt! [laughter]
Hi; my name's Melissa Snedeker; I'm from Colorado Springs. I have been reading the series for about ten years now. Love it. My question is to Brandon. There is a notable difference between you and Robert Jordan's writing. I was wondering what the biggest influence that you had on the books [was], and what were your main thoughts that you added on top of Robert Jordan's?
I usually shy away from saying too much about this because we prefer that when you read the books you not spend a lot of time trying to figure out what was me and what was Robert Jordan. It's safe to say that, at any given point in the book, you will find my influence and his influence.
That said, I've said before the epilogue of this book—and significant chunks of the last little part as well, but specifically the epilogue—was written by him before he passed away, so you do know that. Things I've said before—and I'm probably not going to say much more than this, at least until the books have been out for a while—in Gathering Storm, if it was Egwene, Egwene's plotline was more Robert Jordan, and Rand's plotline was a little more me—we both were involved in both, but there is that—and if it was in Towers of Midnight, Mat's plotline was more Robert Jordan, and Perrin's plotline was more me.
But it's really hard to get down into specifics, because I don't want you focusing on that, and beyond that, I've even started to forget. [laughter] Because I've been working on this... No really! You guys laugh about that, but I've been working on it so long, I will do things, and it's things that came out of the notes, and then I'll go back and look and I have forgotten that those things came from the notes, because at this point in the creative process, you're building a book, and you're looking for the inspirations from the stories or from the notes, and they're kind of sometimes the same to me, whether it's the notes or the stories. And so, anyway, I'm sorry to give you kind of a roundabout non-answer to your question, but maybe in another year or so I can say a little bit more. But really, we would rather it just remain....we don't want it to be at the forefront of people's minds when they're reading.
Yeah. Alright, thank you so much.
My name is Niels Oleson. Tai'shadar [sic] Manetheren, and Tai'shadar [sic] Pleasant Grove. [laughter] That's where I'm from! Go Vikings!
The one question I have is—this wouldn't be a panel without asking—who killed Asmodean? [laughter, cheers] And I know you can't answer it, but is it in the book?
For those who missed it, it's in the, um...the glossary of Towers of Midnight. [boooo] It's actually mentioned in there who killed Asmodean. [laughter] Towers of Midnight, last book; it came out last year. Two years ago. [laughter] So, you've got your answer; you just have to go find it in there.
And let me give a little explanation on that, so you guys who haven't heard this story—I know many of you have—when I first went to Charleston—this was 2007, in December—I had signed the contracts, not knowing how much was written of the book or what was even available, because you know, that's how it had to go; I had to sign all the NDAs and things before I could see, so I flew out there, and picked up the material, so to speak—the material we call the notes and everything—and I got in very late because it's—you know, flying to Charleston from Salt Lake is uh, and you gotta connect at Atlanta, and things—you know, I get in late, and we walk in; Harriet picks me up from the airport, brings me in, and she—(to Harriet) it was bean soup you had made, or something like that—and you're like, "Would you like some food; I know you've been flying a long time..." I said, "No, I'd like the ending, please, thank you." [laughter]
So she laughed and got me the materials, and handed them to me in a stack, and I went in to the room—the sitting room—and I sat down to read them, and on the very top was a post-it note, on top of a page of a fan...fan information, like it printed off from the internet—a fan theory—and all it said is, "This is right." And the fan theory was about who killed Asmodean, and that's all we had, was a "This is correct." Maybe they have more—maybe Maria has more—but all I knew was, "This is correct." I didn't know the how, the why, or anything that this person...why they did this.
And so when it came time to put it in the books, I kind of almost jokingly said, "We should put it in the glossary, because we don't know, so we'll just put it in for fans in the same way we got it, which is just a post-it note." [laughter] "...We'll stick it in the book like a post-it note, in the glossary," and that's because we don't have the full story. And so we went ahead and did that, and then when I was writing the book, I actually worked it into the text, and Harriet wrote back and said, "No, no. I like this glossary thing; it's going in the glossary." [laughter] So, we cut it out of the text and left it in the glossary, and the idea is, you get to feel like we felt because I didn't know anything more than "This is it," so I gave it to you as transparently as possible so that you could have the same feeling of confusion that I had.
And did you see where he got Moghedien from my basic character? [laughter]
So, I got everything at once. There are two things that stand out that are moments when I was looking through the notes and I was like, "Oh!" And then there was one that I'm like, "Oh no." [laughter]
The two that were "Oh!" were, in Gathering Storm where Egwene gets a special visitor, and colors of dresses are mentioned. [laughter] That one was kind of mind-boggling, and that's one of the things that Robert Jordan had complete. Not—I had to write into it and write out of it, but the important parts you're thinking about were done. The second scene was in another section that he had complete, and this is where, at the end of Towers of Midnight, someone you haven't seen for a long time and someone else have a romantic moment together, and that surprised me. I was not one that was expecting that—it's well-foreshadowed, but I just hadn't been expecting it. I actually went to Team Jordan, and I'm like, "This? I—What?" And they're like, "No, it's in there; here, look at this, look at this," and all the foreshadowing, and I had just completely missed it. And so, those two were the surprising moments for me.
The kind of "Oh no" moment was when...he didn't actually write the scene, he just made a sentence that said—oh, someone's plugging their ears because they don't want spoilers; I'm trying to talk around the spoilers, so—in Gathering Storm, there is a scene where a certain member of the Forsaken gets spanked [laughter], and Robert Jordan wrote, "This happens, and she gets spanked." And I'm like, "I'm not going to write a spanking scene; I've never written a spanking scene before!" [laughter] And I was kinda like, "Come on, Jim, do you really have to do this?" But I was like, it was in the notes, and there was no good reason not to [?] that scene, so I went ahead and wrote that scene.
How did you find the time and energy to work on The Way of Kings while you were immersed in Jordan's Wheel of Time? Are you a hidden Allomancer, a slider like Wayne in The Alloy of Law, with the ability to set up a mind-boggling speed bubble?
I wish I could magically create bubbles of time to give myself more space to do these things. After working on The Gathering Storm, I felt more and more that I needed to do The Way of Kings—I had done it and failed once, and I began to see all of the places where it went wrong and how I could fix it. When you get excited about a book that way, you kind of have to write it—strike while the iron is hot. It's something I never want to do again—working on that and Towers of Midnight at the same time just about killed my entire family. The hours were very long, and I'm still kind of recovering from that. How did I find the time? I didn't do much else during that year when I was getting those both ready. I think it was really good for me to do, and I don't think I'll ever do something like that again.
Yeah. Well, I caught Tom Doherty at a convention a couple years ago. He was alone, which doesn't happen very often. So, I chatted to him a little bit about this. At that time it was one book, and he said, "Well, he's actually written like close to 1,000 pages so far, and he's only gotten like 1/3 into Jordan's notes. So, we might have to split the book into two." And then lo and behold, there's going to be three books.
It's an enormous amount of work and we feel that fans will enjoy it better, if we give it to them 1/3 at a time, for three years. As opposed to making them wait an extra three years and then get the whole thing.
Yeah. What happened was. . . and I want to make this perfectly clear as I try to explain this. I've not expanded the size of the book at all. Robert Jordan, before he passed away, kept saying, "This book is going to be enormous. This book is going to be huge. They're going to have to sell a wagon with the bookstores, so you can get it out of the bookstore." And I took that to heart and was writing it as I felt he would have written it. He wanted this book to be enormous.
And Tom Doherty and Harriet made the call, I left it up to them, that they were going to decide how it was going to be divided or if it was going to be divided or if they were going to be printing it as one. And what really happened is about January of this year, Tom and Harriet got together and they looked at what we had and they made the call for two reasons. One reason being, they felt that it was too large to publish as one book. Harriet had said to me, kind of in private, she said, "I don't think Jim could have done this in one book." I don't think he was planning to do this in one book. He maybe would have tried to get them to publish it as one book, but the realities of the publishing business . . . the larger reason I think that they did it because it was going to take me another two years to finish that one book if we were going to be publishing it as one. And they didn't feel that it was right to make the fans wait that long. It's already been four years since the last Wheel of Time book.
And so the decision was made that they would take the first third, which I had finished already, and then have me work with it and edit it so that it was a single volume and it doesn't read like the first third of a story. The way I approached writing this made for some very natural break points. And they were going to publish that and then we would publish the second third and the third third. And it's really more about the fact that this just takes time. These things are enormously difficult to write, in a good way, but very, very hard, because of how much work it requires to get it right and how many pages there are. I mean the first third is going to be as long as an average Wheel of Time book.
And so you can imagine stacking three copies of Eye of the World on top of each other; that's how long Jim planned this book to be.
Well, you've got so many things to tie up. And Robert Jordan, he knew that he was going to die. He knew that, and so he was writing as fast as he could. He got these notes. And you're working off of these notes, which is so great for the fan base, 'cause we get a feel for what Robert Jordan had in mind. I do have one question that everyone is asking me to ask you. [laughs] Are we going to find out who killed Asmodean?
Yes. He left notes about who killed Asmodean. To be included in the book. Harriet's decided where it goes. I can't tell you which of the three books it's going to appear in. But it is going to be in there and he did write the ending himself, of the entire thing.
Which is just wonderful. It makes this book possible because I know what the ending is. He left a lot of material through the middle too, as well. But he left that ending. He'd been promising us for years that he knew the ending of the series. And he did. And he wrote it down. And so I'm really working towards the goal of getting to that ending and working with it in mind and so, yeah, you don't need to worry that the ending won’t be Robert Jordan's ending, because he wrote that himself.
That is great to know. I didn't know that. Well, that is awesome.
I tried to avoid talking about this much before because I don't want you to focus on what's Brandon and what's RJ, but now that it's all out, I do have a little more freedom. One thing is that early when I went to Charleston, I felt RJ was always adding characters, so I didn't want to add too many. I wanted to show something happening at the Black Tower, so Androl became my character that I took and expanded on from minor to main character. Androl himself and his relationship with Pevara was me. I felt the series needed it, and Iâ€™ve always wanted an Asha'man to play with, so to speak.
More generally, for The Gathering Storm I have said RJ worked a lot on Egwene's viewpoints. Not as much on Rand. Rand was more me, Egwene was more RJ. In Towers of Midnight, RJ worked a lot on Mat and not much on Perrin. So if it's Mat, it's more likely to be RJ. If it's Perrin, it's more likely to be me. In A Memory of Light he worked mostly on beginning and end, not much on the middle. Merrilor and the last few chapters are a lot of RJ. In between, it's a lot more me.
As many of you know, I adapted a large number of readers' names for use in Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light. Linda over at the 13th Depository has an article that lists all of the names that were chosen for characters and how they were adapted into the books, including some character names adapted by Robert Jordan in previous books. Note that I also adapted some people's names as place names and other non-character names, and the list doesn't include those. There will probably be another list later.
Last Wednesday I did a Tor chat on Twitter. All of the questions I answered (the questions and my answers include a lot of spoilers, especially for A Memory of Light, so be warned!) are now up in these two Twitter post archives: one, two.
I remembered some more stuff in the shower this morning.
Someone asked who killed Asmodean. Groan. The answer was, of course, in the appendix [glossary] of Towers of Midnight.
In the interim since showering, I forgot the other thing I remembered. But it was of similar consequence as the Asmodean question. If I knew that I'd be sharing answers then I surely would have taken notes.
Do Robert Jordan's notes state who killed Asmodean?
Brandon states that at the top of a large stack of Robert Jordan's notes that he received, there was a print-out of a fan's theory about the killer of Asmodean. Stuck to it was a post-it note from Jordan that read, "this is right."
Harriet commented about the importance of glossaries.
I have a question about who Gaidal and Birgitte might be reborn as. I was wondering if Gaidal could be the son of an Asha'man and if Birgitte might be reborn as an Aiel?
Gaidal definitely could be, and there's a pretty big hint in Towers of Midnight that many folks online have found. As for Birgitte, it's possible.
Do you know who Birgitte is reborn as?
I think a case could be made for Melaine, as the Wise Ones talk about her time being near.
In the WoT, a soul becomes tied to the body at viability.
(As noted in the group Q&A per Robert Jordan.)
I think that's pretty much confirmation that Gaidal is Grady's son. I can't decide whether the comment on viability is to direct attention towards Elayne, as she is at that stage of pregnancy, confirmed by that crazy scene. I know in the torchat Brandon said the notes don't say who Melaine's children are, so maybe he's just stating everything he knows. I prefer to think that Elayne's children might be Calian and Shivan and would usher in the end of the current age. I look forward to the encyclopedia, that's for sure!
The name...how do you pronounce it? Is it no-tay, or no-tie?
Oh, it's...you pronounce the K.
Oh, you pronounce the K!
....according to Alan, who is the Old Tongue expert, who corrected me on it even though I named him.
So say it!
k'no-tie. But Alan can correct me, because Alan is the expert.
Does it have any mythological basis that you know of?
No, it does not that I know of, because that one, as most of the names—not all of them, but most of them that I named, because I named him—came from me writing something in English, and saying, "Alan, give me the Old Tongue."
And so, there are times where he'll find something, and I'll be like, "Oh, that sounds like this! Let's use it. Oh, this sounds like this; let's use it." Most of the time, it's...he comes up with the direct translation.
Like, Shaisam, actually...
Yeah, I mean that's easy to figure out for us, right?
Yeah. And there are some where I say, "Let's find something that feels like this..." and then, you know, of course, Perrin's hammer, right?
That's one where you're like, you know, let's find an Old Tongue translation that works for what the mythological symbolism is.
And that works well. It's hard to pronounce though.
Yeah, it is a little hard to pronounce though.
Can you pronounce it?
MAH-HAHL-in-ear? Eh...ask Alan.
Was it actually Egwene talking to Rand, after...
Oh, I've left this one intentionally ambiguous.
I figured that's what you did.
That, and whether Lan actually died or not, are both ones that I'm not going to answer.
Yeah, and whether Perrin actually died or not, because he's in the dark prophecy too.
Yes, but do remember that the dark prophecy people are misinterpreting that one a little bit, by intention.
Yeah... [Amusingly, Brandon is talking about the dark prophecy in Towers of Midnight, and I'm talking about the one in The Great Hunt.]
You know, they're supposed to misinterpret it, but one of the lines doesn't refer to Perrin; it refers to Hopper, and then the next line...
Well, not her new lover!
That's not Hopper, is it? (laughter behind)
She's not into...okay. Good. (laughs)
In book 6 or 7 when Moiraine gets thrown through the portal, was it RJ's plan to bring her back in Towers of Midnight?
Yes, he actually wrote most of the scenes that take place in the Tower of Ghenjei and afterwards.
Is the Town, the only human settlement in the Blight?
I believe so.
And was the Town the same cluster of building that was seen by Graendal in Towers of Midnight from Moridin's...
Matt Hatch from Theoryland brought me a shirt and art print with a symbol based on the Dusty Wheel from Towers of Midnight. As a cool side note, the pipe drawing is based on one of Robert Jordan's actual pipes. If you're interested in buying one of these shirts, they're available at InkWing. (Also note that Ta'veren Tees has many types of Wheel of Time shirts.)
He acknowledged why Asmodean's killer was revealed the way it was. Apparently when he got the "Notes" from Harriet there was a sticky note on the top that just said "Graendal killed Asmodean" with no further explanation or notes. So they thought it'd be fun to provide the same type of blank answer to the rest of the community.
When you took over writing the Wheel of Time series, was there anything that RJ had in his notes that just completely surprised you?
Hmm... The scene where Egwene gets a specific visitor in The Gathering Storm surprised me the most, I think. Also, at the end of Towers where Moiraine and Thom get engaged. I hadn't noticed how strong the clues about those two were.
During Towers of Midnight, Rand says "How I wish I had listened to Gilgame..." while he and Min are in Far Madding. Was Rand going to reference Gilgamesh before Min interrupted him?
He finished the word, I believe. Gilgame is the person referenced.
Towers of Midnight: Writing Process
Part of the reason I'd decided upon doing Rand/Egwene first was because I knew that this book—Perrin's sequence in particular—was going to be the trickiest of the four major viewpoint sequences. Of the four leads, I felt Perrin was one of those who needed the most growth. In fact, he had as much to grow as Rand did—but in more subtle ways. Rand's descent was a result of the multitude of forces pushing against him, bearing him down, threating to crush him. He was brought to the point where he was because his personality issues were magnified a hundred times over by the extreme circumstances of his life. He cracked while trying desperately to find the right thing to do.
Perrin was different. He had major hangups that he consistently refused to confront, and in many ways was the farthest of the main characters from where he needed to be. Rand's transformation was more dramatic, but Perrin's was just as necessary.
It should be noted that I felt, both from the notes and my own readings of the series, that Mat was basically where Robert Jordan wanted him to be. This remains true even after I re-looked at Mat and tried to fix my interpretation of him. That doesn't mean that Mat is finished as a character, just that he was where Mr. Jordan wanted him for the Last Battle. Mat was going to have another series all his own after the main group of books, and some of his character progress was saved for those. (Note that those books are not going to be written.)
Egwene had a small amount of development left to do, but was mostly there. In The Gathering Storm, she faced the most critical challenges of her career, but Robert Jordan had brought her to the point where she needed to be in Knife of Dreams, and in the notes for A Memory of Light he had indicated specifically how she was to progress. It was mostly a matter of using the confrontations in the White Tower to manifest things she had already learned, and to show once and for all the person she had become.
As for the other characters, Elayne was where she needed to be, but Avi was not. (She had a great deal of growth left to her.) Nynaeve had reached the peak of her development, in my opinion, as had Min. At least this is my read on it, which is reflected in my interpretations of the various arcs of the characters.
Perrin is my favorite character in the series, and has been since I was a youth. Like many readers, I was frustrated by his choices through the later books, though the writer in me really appreciated Robert Jordan's skillful guidance of the character. The problems Perrin confronted (sometimes poorly) highlighted his uncomfortable relationship with the wolves, his unwillingness to cut himself a break, and his ability to devote himself so utterly to one task that everything else vanished. (As a note, I feel this is one of the major things that made me empathize with Perrin for all those years. Of the main characters, he is the only artist. However, he's an artist like me—a focused project builder. A craftsman.)
Though I wanted to be careful not to overdo the concept, one of my goals in these last few books was to bring back ideas and conflicts from the first books—creating parallels and emphasizing the cyclical nature of the Wheel of Time. Again, this was dangerous. I didn't want these books to become a series of in-jokes, homages, and repetitions.
However, there are places where it was not only appropriate, but vital that we return to these themes. I felt one of those involved the Whitecloaks and Perrin, specifically the two Children of the Light he had killed during his clash with them in the very first book. This was a tricky sequence to plot. I wanted Perrin to manifest leadership in a way different from Rand or Egwene. Robert Jordan instructed that Perrin become a king, and I loved this plot arc for him—but in beginning it with the Whitecloaks, I threatened to leave Perrin weak and passive as a character. Of all the sequences in the books, I struggled with this one the most—mostly because of my own aspirations, goals, and dreams for what Perrin could become.
His plot is my favorite of the four for those reasons.
I had other goals for Perrin in this book. His experiences in the Wolf Dream needed to return, I felt, and push toward a final climax in the Last Hunt. This meant returning to a confrontation with Slayer, a mirrored character to Perrin with a dual nature. I wanted to highlight Perrin's instinctive use of his powers, as a contrast to the thoughtful, learned use of power represented by Egwene. People have asked if I think Perrin is better at Tel'aran'rhiod than Egwene. I don't think he is, the balefire-bending scene notwithstanding. They represent two sides of a coin, instinct and learning. In some cases Perrin will be more capable, and in others Egwene will shine.
The forging of Perrin's hammer, the death of Hopper, and the wounding of Perrin in the leg (which is mythologically significant) were in my narrative plan for him from the get-go. However, weaving them all together involved a lot of head/wall-bashing. I wanted a significance to Perrin's interactions with the Way of the Leaf as well, and to build a rapport between him and Galad—in my reads of the characters, I felt they would make for unlikely friends.
Of all the major plot sequences in the books, Perrin's was the one where I had the most freedom—but also the most danger of straying too far from Robert Jordan's vision for who the character should be. His instructions for Perrin focused almost entirely on the person Perrin would be after the Last Battle, with little or no direction on how to bring him there. Perrin was fully in my hands, and I wanted to take extra care to guide my favorite character toward the ending.
I will note, by the way, that Verin's interaction with Egwene in The Gathering Storm was my biggest surprise from the notes. My second biggest was the Thom/Moiraine engagement. Robert Jordan wrote that scene, and I was surprised to read it. (As I said, though I loved and had read the books, there are plenty of fans who were bigger fans than myself—and to them, this was no surprise.) I didn't pick up the subtle hints of a relationship between the two of them until my reread following my getting the notes.
Robert Jordan had written much of Mat's plot, and left instructions on much of the rest. My challenge with Mat in this book, then, wasn't to complete his arc—which was quite good. It was to do a better job with Mat than I had in the previous book.
In order to do Mat right, I went back to Robert Jordan's writing. This time, I dissected Mat, looking at him as a craftsman. I saw a depth of internal narrative that was unlike anything I'd analyzed before. Of all the Wheel of Time characters, Mat is the least trustworthy narrator. What he thinks, feels, and does are sometimes three very different things. His narrative itself is filled with snark and beautifully clever lines, but a relative few of those actually leave his lips. The harder he tries to do something, often the worse it turns out for him. Mat's at his best when he lets instinct lead, regardless of what his internal monologue says.
This makes him very tricky to write, and is why my initial gut instinct on how to do him was wrong. I think for a lot of Wheel of Time readers, Mat is the big surprise in the series. The sometimes snarky, but often grumpy sidekick from the first two books transforms into a unique blend of awesomeness I haven't found in any other story.
I feel that my stab at writing Mat in Towers of Midnight is far better than it was in The Gathering Storm, though I'm not sure I got him right until A Memory of Light. I know some fans will disagree that I ever did get him right, but I am pleased with—and comfortable with—the Mat of these latter two books. Though, of course, having Robert Jordan's more detailed instructions for Mat in these books does help.
To be continued.
Towers of Midnight: What did I learn?
Set Your Sights High
I've never been one to dodge a challenge. However, after failing to do The Way of Kings right in 2002, I was timid about tackling complex narratives across many, many viewpoints. Towers of Midnight marked the largest-scale book I'd ever attempted, with the most complexity of viewpoints, the greatest number of distinct and different scenes to balance, and the most ambitious forms of storytelling. Aviendha's trip through the glass pillars was the most audacious thing I believe I pitched at Team Jordan, and was one of the things about which they were the most skeptical. Perrin's balance between action and inaction risked having him descend into passiveness.
I worked on the new version of The Way of Kings during this time, in 2009–10, when I was also working on Towers of Midnight. I doubt I will ever be more busy than I was in those two years, tackling two of the biggest books of my career at the same time. However, during this time I entered a place in my writing where something clicked, dealing with the next stage of my writing career. I'd always wanted to master the complex epic—my favorite stories of all time fit this mold. Before this, however, I'd done very few sequels—and Towers of Midnight was the most complicated sequel I'm ever likely to do.
I learned a great deal about myself during this period, and the results are on the pages of these two books, Towers of Midnight and The Way of Kings.
Depth of Viewpoint
Working on Mat sent me down a proverbial rabbit hole, as I studied—really studied—how a master approached the use of the third-person limited viewpoint. I have always respected Robert Jordan's ability to characterize through viewpoint. (By this, I mean his ability to show how a person thinks and feels by the way they describe the world while you're seeing through their eyes.) Mat changed my perspective on how to write narrative, and how to make characters live beyond the words stated about them.
When asked what I think Robert Jordan's greatest skill was, I don't say worldbuilding or juggling a complex narrative, though these are certainly two areas in which he excelled. No, I talk about his viewpoints. If there's one thing I wish to learn from Robert Jordan, it's how to accomplish this—how to make you feel a character's culture, history, temperament, and current emotional state by the way they describe the simple things in the world around them.
I think I have improved at this. But it's one of the things I believe I'll be working on for my entire career.
I like novels where a multitude of different threads, some hidden, twist together to a surprising conclusion. This is one area where I think I've, for the most part, done a good job in the past. Working on The Wheel of Time, however, I was able to see Robert Jordan's hand in new ways—and see how delicate he could be with some of his plotting and characterization. I worry that sometimes, I beat people over the head with a character's goals, theme, and motivations. It's because I feel a character with well-defined motivations is one of the hallmarks of a strongly written story.
However, I do think I need to learn to be more subtle—and The Wheel of Time taught me a great deal about this. Robert Jordan's light hand in dealing with the Thom/Moiraine relationship is a good example. Other characters, however, stand out as well—Pevara is an example. The subtle clues about how some of the Sitters who had been chosen were too young is another example of his very delicate hand. It's not an important thread, in the grand scheme of things. Little touches like this, however, are what makes a world live beyond the page. It is something I think I learned from this project—not necessarily how to accomplish this (we'll see if I can), but how to recognize and appreciate it.
Towers of Midnight: What did I do wrong?
I'm the culprit of numerous small mistakes, most of which there is no time to point out. The biggest flaw in my writing of Towers of Midnight, however, has to be the chronology.
All of my solo books have been basically chronological. Elantris had some funky storytelling where each group of three chapters happened concurrently, but most of my other books had a forward progression without much jumping back and forth in timeline for different characters.
The Wheel of Time, however, does jump around a lot—you just don't notice it, as Robert Jordan juggled the timelines quite well. Mat could be progressing at one rate, and when you jumped to Perrin, you'd jump forward or back in time. Those who wanted to look for the clues could find out and build a timeline using the phases of the moon or other hints. Those who didn't want to notice, however, were never thrown out by perceived incongruities.
When we split the books, some of the timeline things I'd done got too far out of sync. At the end of Knife of Dreams, the character viewpoints were somewhat out of sync, as Robert Jordan often wrote them. I didn't have any experience juggling something like this, and in Towers of Midnight I flubbed it. Not that the timeline is messed up—it's actually pretty good, all things considered. However, the perception of it brought us troubles. Because characters interacted across timelines, it felt like they were in two places at once (Tam is an example) even though it all worked narratively.
This made for some confusing moments for readers. Mr. Jordan did things like this without distracting; I didn't juggle this as well, and because of it, I think the book suffered. I hope I've grown better, but it was eye-opening for me when Towers of Midnight came out and people mentioned being confused. I hadn't even noticed the potential problem until the book was out.
To be continued.
Androl and Pevara
In working on the Black Tower plot, one thing I realized early on was that I wanted a new viewpoint character to be involved. One reason was that we didn't have anyone to really show the lives of the everyday members of the Black Tower. It felt like a hole in the viewpoint mosaic for the series. In addition, each Wheel of Time book—almost without exception—has either introduced a new viewpoint character or added a great deal of depth to a character who had only seen minimal use before. As we were drawing near to the end of the series, I didn't want to expand this very far. However, I did want to add at least one character across the three books I was doing.
I went to Team Jordan with the suggestion that I could fulfill both of these purposes by using one of the rank-and-file members of the Black Tower, preferably someone who wasn't a full Asha'man and was something of a blank slate. They suggested Androl. The notes were silent regarding him, and while he had been around, he so far hadn't had the spotlight on him. He seemed the perfect character to dig into.
A few more things got spun into this sequence. One was my desire to expand the usage of gateways in the series. For years, as an aspiring writer, I imagined how I would use gateways if writing a book that included them. I went so far as to include in the Stormlight Archive a magic system built around a similar teleportation mechanic. Being able to work on the Wheel of Time was a thrill for many reasons, but one big one was that it let me play with one of my favorite magic systems and nudge it in a few new directions. I've said that I didn't want to make a large number of new weaves, but instead find ways to use established weaves in new ways. I also liked the idea of expanding on the system for people who have a specific talent in certain areas of the One Power.
Androl became my gateway expert. Another vital key in building him came from Harriet, who mailed me a long article about a leatherworker she found in Mr. Jordan's notes. She said, "He was planning to use this somewhere, but we don't know where."
One final piece for his storyline came during my rereads of the series, where I felt that at times the fandom had been too down on the Red Ajah. True, they had some serious problems with their leadership in the books, but their purpose was noble. I feel that many readers wanted to treat them as the Wheel of Time equivalent of Slytherin—the house of no-goods, with every member a various form of nasty. Robert Jordan himself worked to counteract this, adding a great deal of depth to the Ajah by introducing Pevara. She had long been one of my favorite side characters, and I wanted her to have a strong plot in the last books. Building a relationship between her and Androl felt very natural to me, as it not only allowed me to explore the bonding process, but also let me work a small romance into the last three books—another thing that was present in most Wheel of Time books. The ways I pushed the Androl/Pevara bond was also something of an exploration and experiment. Though this was suggested by the things Robert Jordan wrote, I did have some freedom in how to adapt it. I felt that paralleling the wolf bond made sense, with (of course) its own distinctions.
Finding a place to put the Pevara/Androl sequence into the books, however, proved difficult. Towers of Midnight was the book where we suffered the biggest time crunch. That was the novel where I'd plotted to put most of the Black Tower sequence, but in the end it didn't fit—partially because we just didn't have time for me to write it. So, while I did finish some chapters to put there, the soul of the sequence got pushed off to A Memory of Light, if I managed to find time for it.
I did find time—in part because of cutting the Perrin sequence. Losing those 17,000 words left an imbalance to the pacing of the final book. It needed a plot sequence with more specific tension to balance out the more sweeping sequences early in the book where characters plan, plot, and argue. I was able to expand Androl/Pevara to fit this hole, and to show a lot of things I really wanted to show in the books.
And, you know, there were many lists, and most of them were sort of facetious; some of them were, you know, less so, and I was just kinda wondering, when we did actually kill the Squishy Invulnerable Assassin Creature in, I think it was the second-to-last book.....
...where did the inspiration for that come from? Was it maybe from that site? Because there one there that... [laughter]
I will say that I am, with a lot of things in fandom, I am...was familiar with that list, and I did, after I had built the outline, go to the list and say, "How did they suggest doing these?" It had been a long time, but I was familiar with the list.
And so I can't say that I said, "Oh, I should do it this way." But I can say that this thing and some of these, like a lot of the Asmodean theories—which, by the way, I didn't have to choose on [laughter]—but, things like this were in the back of my brain. It's part of being part of fandom.
Like, I'm not the only one that theorized about gateways, right? Fandom had been theorizing about gateways forever; it's one of the things that drew me to fandom, is when I come on...I had been dreaming about what to do with this, and I'm like, "Ooh, here's other people who are magic system people like me!" and this is a magic system thing, right? How do you kill this thing. And so, this... So, yes, I was familiar with them, but I can't pinpoint and say, "This is something that inspired me."
Um, but it definitely was in the back of my brain. The entire FAQ is something I had read, at various points in its development, and so, yeah. It's hard to say what of the FAQ, over the years, seeped in there and got in my brain, and, you know, it's only things like the...some of the really tough stuff to talk about with the Wheel of Time is, when you start reading a series when you're 15, and you read it multiple times, certain things get cemented into your head that aren't actually part of the books, and some of them are, but they're your own weird interpretation, and...
It's called fanon vs canon.
Yeah, yeah. And when you...being brought on as the writer, I tried to become aware of these, and say, "Okay, what are my own biases?" But I couldn't separate them all. Working on one of the books, I remember this scene—I've told you guys this story before—where I wrote this whole scene, happening with the bridges going into Tar Valon, and Maria's like, "They can't see. This is like a mile-long bridge." And I'm like, "A mile-long bridge!? Not in my Tar Valon!" [laughter] I imagined it perfectly! And nope, going back there, these enormous bridges that I had not imagined, even though they're pivotal to Tar Valon. I have a good friend who insists to this day that Thom Merrilin does not have a mustache. That's pivotal to the character, right? But each of us are going to have these things...when we are reading, our initial impression of the character becomes canon in our own head, and shaking us from that is very difficult sometimes to do. And so, bringing the legacy of all of this with me to writing the books means that you sometimes end up with me being unable to trace where an idea came from. Is it, when I was reading and I was 17 saying, "Oh, I wish this will happen." Is that the origin of the scene, you know, when we bring Tam and Rand back together? Is that the origin of that? I mean, how long had I been thinking about that? Is the origin of that when that meeting with Harriet in April where she said "I have one big request, and it is that you find a way for Tam and Rand to meet again early in one of these books." Was that...? You know. How much of it was that, how much of it was my own fan desire, how much of it was....you know, it's so hard to trace these things and break them down, but I suspect it's a bit of everything.
So, a lot of people are very curious about this conversation, rightfully so. They had many interesting things to say to one another. And I didn’t put that on-screen on purpose because I think that there are . . . Number one, I feel like it was the wrong place, narrative-wise, to have a break for something like that. And it’s also one of these things that I feel is going to work better in your mind than it might have worked on the page because there are so many places that conversation could have gone, that locking it down into to one of them would not have . . . I don’t think would have fully accomplished what we needed to accomplish there.
Beyond that, the conversation that they have would be directly tied to the sequel series, which is not going to be written. And, you know, I feel that if Robert Jordan were still with us and were going to write that sequel series, that scene would have appeared. He would have had them talk, because that would be important then for character motivation, or at least would have been referenced in the sequel trilogy. But since we’re not doing the sequel trilogy, doing that makes promises, also, that you’re not going to get fulfilled as a reader. And so, leaving that off-screen, I felt, was very much the right move.
That said, a lot of people make the assumption that Artur Hawkwing would be—and I’m not sure why they make this assumption, but I do get this from people—that he would be upset, that he would quote/unquote set her straight, or things like that. I think the conversation would have gone in a very different direction. In a, “You're doing a good job. There are certain things that I would suggest to you, but you need to conquer the work. That’s what your job would be. And here’s some advice on going about it.” Rather than a setting her straight, I think personally he would be proud of her. Granted, you know, now that he has all of his memories back, and he’s no longer under the dark influence that he was under during certain parts of his recent mortal existence, he will not be the exact same person he was back then. But he still is a conqueror, and that’s part of who his make-up is. And so, just keep that in mind as you imagine that scene however you want it to go. And I am still adamant about the fact that I think he would not like Aes Sedai even without the influence upon him. They are not his . . . yeah, he would not want to be involved with them.
This is a follow-up to that. We have a certain tall red-headed lady who goes through a magical object that shows what the future is. Does that future take into account the conversation that would have been had between the leader and her ancestor? Or is that something outside of the overall scheme of the world, and therefore would not have been taken into account in the future that was presented in that magical object?
So the future that was presented is—I think people are clear about the idea that this is a possible future. And that is not . . . You know, some of the things that we get as glimpses of the future in the Wheel of Time are set in stone, and some of them are not. And this is one that is not. And so that conversation could have been part of that, but could also not have been part of that.