Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
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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A sort of slenderized Burl Ives, with the same intelligent, probing eyes, ebullient manner, and faintly mischievous grin, Jordan, now in his 40s, is exploring the realm of fantasy after successful sojourns along a number of literary paths.
Judging by the review and the sales—his pen seems as formidable as a highwayman's blade, or a sorcerer's talisman.
Jordan, who also writes under the pseudonyms "Reagan O'Neal" and "Jackson O'Reilly," recently completed the second in a planned six-book fantasy series for Tor Books collectively entitled "The Wheel of Time." The first installment, The Eye of the World, was four years in the writing. It was released in February 1990 to broad acclaim, ascending the bestseller list. Volume two, The Great Hunt, was published this fall, with the third book tentatively scheduled for December 1991.
My agent did just that, actually. He said he had a lot of trouble through the first half of the book, then had a blast with the second half.
I honestly wouldn't suggest it. The Wheel of Time is meant to be an in-depth, immersive experience. There's a lot going on in these books, and they are not episodic—meaning the story is one long saga. It would be a little like tuning in to the Lord of the Rings movies and only watching the last chunk of the final movie.
If you're determined, you could read The Encyclopaedia-WoT [which] has some excellent summaries of the books, chapter by chapter. But you'll be missing out on a lot of fun. There will not be summaries posted in the books themselves—the WoT is just too long and involved for that to work. (And Robert Jordan always resisted letting the publisher add anything like that.)
I love epic fantasy, but I’m of the generation who grew up reading Robert Jordan and Tad Williams and are now trying to say, what else can we do with the genre? I want to write books that feel like the great epic fantasies of the past that you’ve read, but don’t use the same, familiar stories. In Mistborn, for example, the idea was to turn the standard fantasy story on its head–what if the prophesied hero failed and the Dark Lord took over and has ruled the known world for the last thousand years? My books are also known for their spectacular, interesting magic systems that are very rule based and almost a science unto themselves. But of course none of that matters without characters whose motivations you can understand and who you can care about as a reader. In Elantris I have three very different main viewpoint characters, and readers are fairly evenly divided on who’s their favorite–in writing as in anything else, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time, but I’m happy that my books have shown so many different people a character they can relate to and root for.
Between writing Mistborn 2 and Mistborn 3, I wanted to try something new, and my series of humorous middle-grade novels beginning with Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians was the result. I love epic fantasy, and don’t intend to ever stop writing it. However, sometimes we all need a diversion toward something more lighthearted. If you want to get a taste of what my writing is like, because Alcatraz is so different from my other books I recommend that unless you’re between the ages of ten and thirteen you start with the first Mistborn book—or Elantris or Warbreaker. Mistborn is a good entry point for people who like trilogies and series (and the writing is better in Mistborn than in Elantris; I can see how much I have improved over the years). The other two are good entry points for people who prefer standalones–and Warbreaker is available for free on my website (as well as coming out in hardcover in North America from Tor next month), so it may be the most convenient starting point of all.
You will have to look. Hoid is in the book, though his name doesn't appear. But the things happening here during this interim are not of deep interest to Hoid like the things happening in the original trilogy, so he is playing a much smaller role here than he was in the original trilogy.
Also, High Imperial just cracks me up.
How much did you focus on writing The Alloy of Law as a starting point for readers who were new to Mistborn? Was it hard to balance writing for new readers versus wanting to give your existing readers a "welcome home"?
It takes place hundreds of years after the trilogy, so there was enough that I had to bring longtime readers up to speed on that it felt very natural to write the book as a potential new starting point, just because the world had been updated so much.
That said, I did make sure to slip in lots of fun things for those who had read the original trilogy, that are callbacks or that show how the world got updated and how it grew. I was conscious of the book possibly being a new starting point, but it's more that it felt natural for what the story required, as opposed to me sitting down and trying to force the book to be a new starting point.
I've read a bit online about how you have an overall storyline covering all of your novels, but I really don't know much about it. I was wondering if you could expand and explain.
Okay. The overarching story of all of my novels. This warrants some backstory. If you weren't familiar, I wrote thirteen novels before I sold one. I spent a lot of time practicing and learning, and I love big epic grand series. However, you know, you can't grow up reading the Wheel of Time without loving big series, but advice I heard early on was, selling a big series is actually pretty hard from a new author and if you, for instance, spend your life and you write like six books in the same series, and you send off the first book to someone and they don't buy it, you can't really send them the second book because, you know, they've already rejected that, and so it's really putting all of your eggs into one basket, and that doesn't end up working out for some people. I didn't want to do that; I wanted to expand my chances, and so I wrote thirteen novels in different worlds, all with their own different magic systems and own characters. But secretly I loved the grand epic, and so I started connecting all these worlds during my unpublished era, and telling a hidden epic behind them all that I was setting up for.
Well, eventually I sold book number six, and embedded in book number six was a bunch of this stuff for the hidden epic, of course, and six is actually one of the ones where I first started doing this. My first five were kind of throwaway novels. It was six, seven, eight, and nine that were really involved in this. Six was Elantris; seven was a book called Dragonsteel; eight was a book called White Sand; and nine was a book called Mythwalker, which eventually became Warbreaker, which I eventually rewrote and released as Warbreaker. So that four-book sequence was very ingrained in this kind of hidden story behind the stories. When I started publishing these books, I just kept it going, the hidden story, the hidden epic.
Now one aspect of this was that I didn't want people to have to know all the books that came before to understand what was happening in any one of them. So, for instance, if you read these you don't need to know anything about the hidden epic. It is back there behind the scenes for some day when I actually write a series dedicated to it, that there will be all this foreshadowing, but it will never directly and in really important ways influence a given series. For instance, you don't have to have read Elantris to understand Mistborn even though technically they're sequels; Mistborn is technically a sequel to Elantris, just set on a different planet.
There is one character who has appeared in all of my novels, and several other characters who have jumped between novels. For instance there's a character from Elantris who is in The Way of Kings—one of the main characters from Elantris shows up in Way of Kings under hidden auspices, but it's pretty obvious; the fans found it really fast, those who were watching out for it—but that sort of thing. So, there is a story going on behind all of this that I will eventually tell, but what do you need to know about it right now? That all of these things are basically Easter eggs right now. None of them are dominating the storyline at all; it's just a bunch of cool Easter eggs that eventually will mean something to you. So the character to watch out for is called Hoid; it's a pseudonym he usually uses—pseudonym is I guess the wrong term; the alias he normally uses—and he's all over in the books, so if you watch out for him you'll see him.