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Old 02-22-2013, 09:37 PM
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Default Odds and Ends with Brandon and Maria

On my first trip through the signing line, I got permission from Brandon to post this (Maria just emailed me yesterday), so I figured I'd go ahead and post it while I'm waiting on the second trip through the line.

On the first question, he's managed to slip it into a few Q&As (which I suggested) since I asked him about it, so not much new there. The other two questions he wanted to pass through Maria for comment, so her responses are included here too. I also passed on a couple of MAFOs. My questions are paraphrased because this was actually the result of a conversation that was too complicated to summarize faithfully. Brandon's and Maria's responses are verbatim.

Terez: There was a signing table report on Reddit where you mentioned some research RJ had done on leatherworking, and how you worked it into Androl's character. Anything else you can tell us about that?

Brandon: I'm not sure what I can say here that will be all that interesting. While I was working on the outline for the book (what eventually became the books) Harriet found something she'd forgotten about until then. It was a photocopied stack of sheets from what appeared to be a magazine about craftsmanship. In it, a leatherworker went into depth about what he did in his art. Harriet had written across it "Jim planned to use this somewhere." We didn't know where.

Previously, in visiting Team Jordan, I'd suggested that I would enjoy having an Asha'man character who had previously been a side character that I could make into a main character. I wasn't planning to add any other characters in significant roles, but I did want an Asha'man to add some viewpoints in the Black Tower. Beyond that, I wanted as a storyteller to have a character I could use that had very little baggage, one I could develop fresh. It's something you will often find me doing in my own books, something Jim himself did, in expanding a side character in later books of a series.

They'd suggested Androl, who was basically a blank slate in the notes. I took him and made him my gateway-Talented Asha'man, and the leatherworking sequence seemed to work very well with how I'd been developing him. And that's how the Androl of these later three books came to be.

Terez: I'm guessing you're aware that RJ told a couple of fans that the Heroes had to follow the Horn no matter who blew it (and that, if the Shadow blew the Horn, there would be some kind of 'rift' in the Pattern). What's the story there?

Brandon: This is an interesting one for a multitude of reasons. I actually worked under the assumption that whoever blew the horn would control the Heroes, going so far as to write several sequences in the last book referencing that to heighten tension that if the Horn were indeed captured things would go VERY poorly for the Light.

I was quite surprised, then, when Harriet wrote back to me on the manuscript quite energetically crossing out these lines and explaining that the Heroes could not ever follow the Shadow. I called and asked for confirmation and clarification, pointing out that it seemed otherwise from the text and from fandom interpretation. She explained that this was one of Jim's ruses, that the characters in book were wrong and repeating bad information, and that Jim had been very clear with her that it was not the case. I can only guess that these reports in fandom were cases where people asked Jim a question he could Aes Sedai his way out of, and something got muddled in the communication or the reporting somehow.

(Feel free to follow up with Harriet and Maria on this one, if you want more. Honestly, I was surprised, and it was something we had quite a dialogue on as I worked on the final book. I fought longer than I probably should for the "Shadow can use the Horn" theory.)

Maria: I really can't add anything here. I thought I was led to believe (as opposed to coming up with it myself) that the Heroes really wouldn't follow the Horn if it were blown by Team Dark, but I cannot swear to that. I was unaware of the rift answer. Of course, it's possible that the Heroes themselves don't know the correct answer; they're Heroes, after all, and unless there's some Hero orientation meeting where they are filled in on all the details, they may just assume that they're always going to be Heroes, as in champions of goodness and Light.

Terez: At a recent signing, you answered a question about balefire which, as you can see from Marie's footnote, contradicts what RJ said. Can you clear that up?

Brandon: I can only surmise here that I'm wrong. My response didn't come from specifics in Jim's notes, but from conversations between myself and Maria trying to interpret things written in the notes that were not specifically clear. We came out of it understanding the following: Balefire burns threads out of the pattern. If you balefire someone after THEY balefire someone, the threads are remain burned away. However, this was OUR interpretation, and Jim's responses (where he gave them) always trump what we come up with.

Honestly, I thought we were pretty safe on this one, based on the notes and Maria's understanding of Balefire. But it looks like Jim had ideas about it that he didn't leave in the notes! (This isn't uncommon, keep in mind. Most of the notes were intended for him, and not outsiders, and so he didn't often write on things he didn't need to remember. During the last months, he did give a lot of notes specifically for Team Jordan and myself—but these things dealt with bigger picture plot sequences or the like, and not the minutia of worldbuilding.)

I apologize for the mistake.

Maria: Balefire makes my head hurt. I can't really add anything here, either. I'm sure that Jim and I discussed balefire at some point, but no details really remain. I think that the line "it depends upon the strength of the balefire" is the real answer. Sometimes person 2 comes back to life, and sometimes not, depending upon strength and timing. I got nothing better.

Two MAFOs from the #torchat:

Terez: First MAFO was about Moiraine's Aelfinn questions and other Eelfinn wishes. I'm guessing you won't just blab those (assuming they were even in the notes), but a better question to ask would be: will they be in the Encyclopedia?

Maria: Everything I know about Aelfinn/Eelfinn questions/wishes will be in the encyclopedia.

Terez: Second MAFO was mine: Who sent the attack on Algarin's manor? Brandon says you told him but he forgot.

Maria: I'm going to plead the encyclopedia on this one.
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