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An Hour With Harriet

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.

The Bell Tolls

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

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Old 01-20-2013, 05:04 PM
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Default AMOL Midnight Release transcript

Jason Denzel
(into mic) Hello? You guys look like a Wheel of Time crowd! Hello, and welcome. My name is Jason Denzel; I'm the webmaster of Dragonmount.com. [applause, cheers] I'm going to do a—I mean, everyone up here probably needs no introduction, but we're going to introduce ourselves anyway, and then we have some treats for you. So, going down the line here, next to me is the wonderful, the incredible, the amazing Harriet McDougal. [applause, cheers, standing ovation]

Harriet McDougal
Hello! Y'all are going to make me cry! I put my shoes on one foot at a time, just the way you do. [laughter] Thank you very much for that incredibly warm welcome.

Jason Denzel
Next here is Maria Simons, Harriet's executive assistant, and probably the person who knows the Wheel of Time better than any of you. [laughter, applause, cheers]

Maria Simons
Hello. Great to see you all.

Jason Denzel
I'm going to skip over the next guest; we'll come back to him. [laughter] Matt Hatch, the webmaster of Theoryland.com [applause, cheers] And Peter Ahlstrom, Brandon's assistant, and also someone who knows these books inside and out. [applause, cheers] Last, but not least, of course, we have Brandon Sanderson. [applause, cheers, standing ovation]

So we're going to begin here with something very special for you. Harriet is going to read from A Memory of Light, something that has not yet been put out in any of the various previews online or anything, so assuming you haven't read the book yet, this should be something new and special for you. Here's Harriet.

Harriet McDougal
This is why I've had my nose in this book, is checking out what I plan to read.

Audience
Read the ending! [laughter]

Harriet McDougal
You wish! This is from chapter nine. [snip Rand POV] [applause]

Jason Denzel
Okay, so...everyone, Maria Simons.

Maria Simons
I wanted to tell y'all a little about Waygate Foundation. When you get your book, on the back flap there's a list of websites—Dragonmount, Theoryland, a few others—Waygate's a new one. Waygate is a non-profit that has started to bring together authors and fans of science fiction and fantasy to [?] charitable efforts. Harriet is on the board; Brandon is on the board; I'm on the board; Wilson Grooms is on the board; Jason is on the advisory council.

We're trying to put together a significant effort to raise money for good charities throughout the world, and right now Waygate is running a campaign; they're trying to raise ten thousand dollars to benefit Waygate and Worldbuilders, and if they raise ten thousand dollars, they will reveal a peek at the Encyclopedia, which will be forthcoming from us. I selected the material, and I tried to make it really good. [laughter]

Waygate is starting an Encyclopedia Question and Answer with me and Alan and herself, and they are collecting questions on their Facebook page starting...this evening! [laughter] So if you check out Waygate, you can find them there, and if you have any questions about the Encyclopedia, you can ask them there, and they will be picking and choosing, you know, the questions that are really good, or that the most people have, and we will do our best to answer them while we're working on the Encyclopedia, because that's already underway. Thanks. [applause]

Brandon Sanderson
Okay, and now a quick announcement about how we're going to do the questions.

Kristy Lussier
(trying to reach mic) It doesn't stretch far. (destroys microphone, gets another) Sorry. [laughter] Okay, so anybody that would like to ask a question, what we're going to ask you to do is...there are aisles here; we'll have you line up at the end of the aisle, and then a Memory Keeper will direct you to the microphone, and if you could state your name, where you're from, and then ask your question to the panel, that would be great. Oh and Brandon says no spoilers.

Brandon Sanderson
Specifically about A Memory of Light. I know some of you have copies that you found in unauthorized locations [laughter], and so we want to stay away from any spoilers about this book. Spoilers about the other books are probably okay, though if you can circumlocute—if you can talk around without giving too many specifics—that might be better, but I think if you're here you probably have read most of the series. [laughter] And if you haven't, I'm sorry, but there's going to probably be some spoilers.

So yeah, let's go ahead and do questions and answers.

Memory Keeper
Line up! If anybody wants to ask a question, line up here.

Matt Hatch
Don't be shy!

Kevin Butler
My name is Kevin Butler; my wife Diana is back here, and I met her when she was reading The Dragon Reborn, and even though I was going out with her roommate at the time, we hit it off quite well. [laughter, cheers] I was wondering if, now that you have a break from writing the Wheel of Time for a while, if you're going to consider the outrigger novels. We'd love to hear more about Mat.

Harriet McDougal
I think I'm the villain who should answer this. [laughter]

Kevin Butler
And I understand.

Harriet McDougal
There will not be outrigger novels. Robert Jordan left a total of two sentences about the outrigger novels. He had expressed a horror of people sharecropping in his universe, and this would have been such a thing, and I think my darling husband would come back and do terrible things to me [laughter] and so there won't be any outriggers. And it's a pity; it would have been fun to see Shara. [oooohs] Seanchan! The Seanchan, I mean; excuse me. [laughter]

(to next questioner) Cool t-shirt! [laughter]

Melissa Snedeker
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?

Brandon Sanderson
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.

Melissa Snedeker
Yeah. Alright, thank you so much.

Justin Ellis
My name is Justin Ellis; I've read several of your novels. Now that you're at the top of your game, Brandon...what do you want to do—what would you do—if you weren't a writer? [laughter]

Brandon Sanderson
I'd be laying in a gutter somewhere, unable to produce anything valuable for society. [laughter] I don't know. I mean, I was always [?] My mom sent me to school to become a doctor, but that was never gonna happen. [laughter] I don't know. I mean, I went through my grad program—all the other grad students were doing all this work to go get PhDs and stuff, and I didn't do any of that. I was writing books, only. And if I hadn't sold a novel, then, I don't know. Maybe I'd be still working at the hotel, the graveyard shift I worked at for years, writing books overnight. I wanted to be a writer, and I put pretty much everything into it. I'd probably be teaching English at a community college somewhere, and still writing two books a year without anyone ever reading them.

Jason Denzel
And playing a lot of Magic the Gathering. [laughter, cheers]

Anthony Gould
My name is Anthony Gould. I've been reading the series quite a bit. I've read 1-13 ten times. [murmurs, woos] And so...and I actually planned to read A Memory of Light ten times in a row before I read any other book...[laughter]...just so I have something to say instead of saying, "I've read every other book ten times, and I've read this one once." That'd be bad.

But yeah, so my question I think is directed at Harriet, mostly. I was thinking, well, is the character Mat Cauthon—did Robert Jordan base that character on him?

Harriet McDougal
Maria was saying something earlier today that would suggest what you think he did...? (looks at Maria)

Maria Simons
Somewhat.

Harriet McDougal
Somewhat. I would go for that. He told somebody, I think more than once, that all the female characters were based on me. [laughter] In the same way, I think that perhaps he based all the male characters on him, including Padan Fain and the like. [laughter]

Maria Simons
Traits he had in common with Mat: There's one point Mat's talking to Olver about turtle shells, and Mat's thinking about a turtle shell he had. Jim—Robert Jordan—had a shelf of turtle shells in the office, and he did like to play cards and other games. [laughter] Yeah, there were aspects of Jim in Mat.

Harriet McDougal
And to quit a job as a civilian engineer working for the United States Navy in order to write fiction...if that isn't the act of a gambler, I don't know what is. [laughter, applause]

Anthony Gould
Alright, well thank you then!

Brian Hill
Hello. I'm Brian Hill, from near Seattle, Washington, and I first want to thank Harriet for your courage and generosity in bringing this to us after the loss that you had. Thank you. [applause]

Harriet McDougal
Thank you. [applause] Thank you for wanting it. [laughter]

Brian Hill
Two things. If circumstances had been different, would Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson get along, and would they be friends? [laughter] And second, with this...now that it's all written, as he looks down, is he proud? What would his thoughts be tonight?

Harriet McDougal
Oh, I think he'd be proud. I think he'd be proud, and I do think he and Brandon would have gotten along. [laughter]

Maria Simons
One thing that was really strange...the first time Brandon came to Harriet and Jim's house, we were...when Jim was still alive, on Fridays we would order out from a restaurant and sit down and talk and everything, and so Brandon came. We ordered from one of the same restaurants. He ordered what Jim ordered, without any hints or anything. He sat in Jim's seat. It was kinda like, "Wow, this is kinda cool!" [laughter] It felt like it was meant to be.

Brandon Sanderson
Harriet tells a story—at least on the Gathering Storm tour, someone asked a question like that—and she said...(to Harriet) back then you said...she thought he was probably up there and looking down and saying, "Who is that kid?" And then kind of nodding and saying, "Yeah, it turned out alright." [laughter]

Harriet McDougal
I think he's definitely saying that now.

Drew McCaffrey
My name is Drew McCaffrey; I'm from Fort Collins, Colorado. I've been an absolutely huge fan of the series for eleven years now, and I just recently graduated as a creative writing major, and I'm a writer because of the Wheel of Time. [applause, cheers]

My question is in regards to a debate that I've had with my cousin and a couple of my friends for a while now. Is it possible for a channeler to be tied to the Horn of Valere?

Maria Simons
(Brandon passes mic to Maria, laughter) Um, I think I'm gonna have to say, that's a really good question. [laughter] I honestly can't say why not.

Drew McCaffrey
(to his friends) HA! [laughter, applause]

Maria Simons
But! But I would really love to do some research before giving an absolute definitive answer [laughter] and I can't do that right now.

Drew McCaffrey
Would Lews Therin's soul be tied to the Horn?

Brandon Sanderson
Lews Therin! He was.

Maria Simons
Well yeah. [laughter]

Brandon Sanderson
He was recognized.

Maria Simons
That's right. Absolutely.

Brandon Sanderson
He was recognized, but was he tied to the Horn? Do we have confirmation of that happening? [laughter] Or they just know him? See, he's trying to trick us into saying things.

Harriet McDougal
Maria's saying she'll have to look it up and post it.

Drew McCaffrey
Ooh. Agreed. Well, thank you very much, all of you, for being here tonight and...yeah. [laughter, applause]

Footnote
Robert Jordan confirmed that Rand was a hero of the Horn.

Sarah Bylund
Okay, so, I usually don't do this kind of thing, because I hate being in front of people, so...but recently, I saw in someone's basement a box that was labeled Stuff That People Gave Brandon...and, I looked in it. I did. [laughs] And I did see some black licorice, and so I guess you don't like that...

Brandon Sanderson
No, I like it.

Sarah Bylund
Well, it's sitting in there; you should eat it! [laughter] So, I was wondering though, for Harriet and Brandon, what's the strangest thing, or maybe the coolest thing you've gotten from a Wheel of Time person, someone just giving you something.

Peter Ahlstrom
Tell us who you are!

Sarah Bylund
I'm Sarah, sorry. [laughter]

Harriet McDougal
Well, I got a lovely handmade wall hanging that was sort of like a quilt, with various pieces having to do with things in the series that the maker liked the best. And I also got a very charming, little cuddly grolm. Made out of green...a green gingham. And really sweet. With no teeth!

Brandon Sanderson
(consults with Peter) I got...I've gotten a lot of cool things. It's hard to pick out just one. Like, I've gotten nifty buttons and bracelets, and I got a pen that was handmade and carved...(to audience) What?

Audience
And cards!

Brandon Sanderson
Lots of cards, yes. [laughter] I've gotten lots of mac'n'cheese; people give that to me. I've gotten various types of salts, since people know I like salt. One of the cool ones was, somebody made their license plate TAVEREN, and they got two of them, and they put one on the back, and they gave me the other. [laughter] (to audience) Was that you? Were you raising your hand? No...that's you!? Hey! I'm glad I remembered you. [applause] So I have a nifty TAVEREN license plate; it's not from Utah though, so I can't put it on my car but...yeah. Where's it from? It's like...

Chris Wells
No, it is Utah.

Brandon Sanderson
It is a Utah plate? Oh okay, so I could stick it on...oh, I can't stick it on my car, it's licensed to you. [laughter] Yeah.

Chris Wells
But you can park illegally!

Brandon Sanderson
Yeah, I can park illegally, that's right. I could park and the ticket, it goes to you, right? [laughter] That's how that works?

Sarah Bylund
Thanks.

Brian Lickey
Hi. I'm Brian Lickey from Orem, Utah. Two questions, and I hope I'm not encroaching on Waygate with this one, but in regards to the Encyclopedia: are we going to have a full Karaethon Cycle, Prophecies of the Shadow and all that? And second, are you going to have exhaustive troop movement matters? [laughter] Because I know that back in March, Brandon was mentioning consulting with a strategist over writing a particular chapter of this book, which would lead one to believe that it's fairly confusing. [laughter]

Maria Simons
The complete Karaethon Cycle will not be in there, because Jim didn't write the complete one out. Same for the Prophecies. I'm not sure about the maps...(looks at Harriet)

Harriet McDougal
I do think you'll find that, as published, the strategic movements are really very clear.

Brian Lickey
Thank you.

Brigitte Reed
Hello. My name is Brigitte Reed; I'm from Kearns, Utah, and I just wanted to say that I started reading the series when I was thirteen, and I was in the 8th grade, and so I've been reading it over...about fourteen years, and it's the best series I've ever read, and I'm so thankful to you, Harriet, for being willing to give it over to Brandon so that he could finish it for us.

And I actually have a question for Maria, and this is a question that I asked Brandon in November that he didn't know the answer to. [laughter] So he told me to email him, and he would email you. But I wanted to know if the women in Randland shaved. [laughter]

Maria Simons
I thought I had answered this one somewhere along the line. Um...not really. [laughter] This is...I went digging around in the notes, and...basically, in the...the razors the men shave with are just not really good for shaving legs...so, it would be dangerous. Also, we see how they brush their teeth in the Wheel of Time, and we see men shaving, and a lot of things. And I think if they did, at some point Jim would have had a woman with her leg outstretched, shaving.... [laughter] You know? So, I am reasonably certain they did not.

Brigitte Reed
Thank you very much.

Harriet McDougal
But I think, in the thousands of years since the Breaking, there's been a certain amount of blessed evolution, so that women no longer have hair on their legs. [applause, cheers]

Maria Simons
That was my other thought. [laughter]

Zach
Hi. I'm Zach [?], and I'm from here in Orem, and I kind of feel like a child with all these people that have read it for so long. I'm pretty new to the series—just a couple of years—but I love it just as much. And I'm really grateful you guys brought your assistants with you as well, because I know, with the creative writing process and writing, it takes a lot more than just one person.
And so I was wondering, probably more directed to Brandon, how did you keep everything together? How did you encompass everything... [laughter] Just a little idea; I just wanted to know a little bit about how you kept up with everything.

Brandon Sanderson
It's interesting. I am somewhat absentminded in a lot of things in my life, but I don't forget stories. Stories stay in my head, and perhaps that's why I forget everything else. [laughter] I can remember stories that I was planning to tell twenty years ago, and I've still got the details in my head, and I'm ready to write it at some point; I just haven't gotten around to it.

That said, a lot of the minutiae that isn't part of the soul of the story to me—it's very important, but it isn't part of the soul of the story—and that sort of thing, I do need to keep track of, and so recently we've been using the Wiki, and the Wiki has worked really well; that's for my own books. For the Wheel of Time, I just let other people make the Wikis, and I use theirs. [laughter] So the Encyclopaedia-WoT—Bob Kluttz, and Encyclopaedia-WoT—and if there's anyone here from Tar Valon who worked on their Wiki, the Tar Valon Wiki is fantastic, and I really liked the Tar Valon Wiki. And so, those were two things that I used for the simple questions, the questions they couldn't answer. Maria was like our version of the Brown Ajah that has been gathering all sorts of things and getting them ready for us whenever we have requests about them and whatnot, so it's been very useful.

Harriet McDougal
She doesn't have a live owl on her desk, but she does have a large plastic iguana that has a cigarette in its mouth. [laughter]

Maria Simons
And I have two beautiful brown shawls proving I am of the Brown Ajah. [cheers, applause]

Paul Williams
Hi, I'm Paul Williams, of [?]/BYU Idaho/[?] Idaho...[?] going back there this week looking for a new job. Anyways, I got two questions.

First one is definitely for Harriet. Can you share with us any details about the Infinity of Heaven series that Robert Jordan was planning?

And a question, chosen vicariously for another friend: has the Creator been very intimately and directly connected to the story, or is he kind of like the absent god, where he set things in motion and left?

Harriet McDougal
Well, the Infinity of Heaven series was—well, having been an editor for so many years, I'm really bad at coming up with these little soundbites, but that's a way of saying I'm really good at it. [laughter] But it was a fantasy shōgun, that people are shipwrecked on the shore of a country they really had never heard of before, that's a lot like Japan. Or Seanchan, if you like, but not Seanchan. The big difference is, they come from something more like Belgium, as I always thought of it. (to Maria) What did you think? Anyway, kind of as if a northern European country. And the difference...the two cultures have diametrically opposed views of...magic, if you like—how it's used. In one, it's...war revolves around magic; it's the major weapon, like the nuclear bomb, and in the other....(to Maria) what? It's the other way around; the government uses magic, but it is never even considered as a weapon. (to Maria) Am I even remembering right?

Maria Simons
I'm just drawing a blank. I know I've read it, but... [laughter]

Harriet McDougal
Yeah, there's very little about it. There was enough for Tom Doherty to give him a big fat contract. [laughter] But that had to be rolled over into these last books; he never got beyond a very brief outline. So that's about as much as I can tell you except there's a...I think it's a young man who is shipwrecked, and he has been in much the position of the hero in Shōgun, having to learn a very stratified, foreign culture from the ground up.
And then, the question of the role of the Creator, by which you mean God, not the writer?

Paul Williams
Yes, exactly. [laughter]

Harriet McDougal
As you know, he said he didn't believe writers who said, "I just work to a certain point and then the characters take it over." He said, "I don't believe that for a minute." [laughter] Actually, what he said was, "I am Old Testament god, and my fist is in the middle of my characters' lives." But the way he envisions the Light in these books is that they have a very immediate sense of the Creator, which is—they don't need churches, because he's right there for them. Not that they don't believe; they believe so deeply that they live their lives in a sense of God, the Creator.

Paul Williams
And the question is also, has the Creator been intimately connected to Rand's journey? Did the Creator purposefully set Rand up to be the Dragon Reborn?

Harriet McDougal
I think only in the sense that the Creator is perceived by the characters as being pretty intimately involved in all their lives.

Paul Williams
Thank you. Tai'shar!

Niels Oleson
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?

Brandon Sanderson
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.

Harriet McDougal
And did you see where he got Moghedien from my basic character? [laughter]

Ben Leveridge
It's times like this it's nice to be short; you don't have to worry about the microphone. [laughter] I'm Ben Leveridge; I'm from here in Orem and Provo, and my question is probably mostly for Maria.

So we have seen several examples in the books recently about things being Healed that we didn't think could be Healed—severing, madness. We've also seen in the past that there are links that a person can have physically to the Dark One; Asmodean had a link to the Dark One, which allowed him to funnel off some of the madness, and Rand severed that. So my question is along those lines. Can a similar kind of thing happen to one who has forcibly turned to the Shadow with a circle of Myrddraal and channelers—can that be severed or Healed, turning them back to the Light, or to whatever their normal state of mind would be?

Maria Simons
Read and find out!

Ben Leveridge
Yes! First RAFO! Thank you. [laughter, cheers]

Brandon Sanderson
She was just so excited to give a RAFO. We don't get to RAFO much in these things.

Chris Capelin
My name is Chris Capelin, from Los Angeles. I had a question for Harriet. It's for me, and for my really good friend Andrew who is without a doubt the biggest Wheel of Time fan in this room. [boos, jeers] Really, really. You're wrong; you're all wrong!

But the question is, if money wasn't an issue, and you had any budget that you wanted, what in your opinion would be the best way to put the Wheel of Time on the screen?

Harriet McDougal
Well, I think that it's so big, and so rich, that its most wonderful appearance on film would be as a television series. [cheers, applause] It really would.

Chris Capelin
Then I'm personally pleading with you to never let it be made into movies, because that'll absolutely ruin it.

Jeremy Wunders
Hi, I'm Jeremy Wunders from Las Vegas, Nevada. So, a while back ago, Wizards of the Coast produced a roleplaying game for the Wheel of Time, and although not the best translation of the world, it was a really good effort nonetheless, and it brought the fans together to create a lot of great material, and when that kind of faded off and sputtered into nothingness, some of us have been rabidly waiting for this last book in hopes that it'd open another door for another tabletop RPG. Is there anything of that nature in the works?

Harriet McDougal
No. And also, I should say that the film rights to the Wheel of Time are at present being developed at Universal, and not—I'm sorry to say—as a series, but it's another medium, and what—que sera, que sera, as Doris Day and Alfred Hitchcock taught us all those years ago.

Jeremy Wunders
Thank you very much.

Stefan
Hey! [laughter]

Harriet McDougal
Hey!

Stefan
I'm Stefan from American Fork, locally, and I had a really good question, but I looked it up on the internet before I came, and it was answered both on Dragonmount and Theoryland. [laughter] And so I had to come up with something else.

So, we have seen the hierarchies explained in a lot of the different orders in Randland, like—you know, the Wise Ones, it's kind of force of will, right? Like, Aes Sedai, they kinda defer based on the strength of Power, that kind of thing. Have we seen that in the Black Tower, and is that what's going on with how the men treat Androl?

Brandon Sanderson
The Black Tower is still unformed. They've begun...you've gotta remember—like you mentioned the Wise Ones; you mentioned the White Tower—these are institutions that have been going for a long, long time, and they've had plenty of time to build their hierarchies organically. The Black Tower has not had that chance yet, and I think that if you were to watch the Black Tower for the next thousand years, assuming it survives—assuming it survives even this book [laughter]—you would see them come up with their own method of stratification, and it might be similar to one of the others; it might be different, and you'll just have to read and figure out on your own what you think would happen.

Stefan
Read And Figure Out.

Brandon Sanderson
Yes, Read And Figure Out. [laughter] Because you're trying to compare, in a lot of ways, apples and oranges, because something that's had a thousand years to grow is going to be—you know, it's going to have some of that rigidity that something brand-new doesn't have.

Stefan
Okay, thank you.

Derek Cohen
My name is Derek Cohen, and I'm from Provo, Utah. My question is for Harriet. After Jim died, of course, you're going through all of these authors, and there's so many authors in the fantasy and even science fiction genres that could have taken the step. But was there an "Aha!" moment, or...what was it that made you say to yourself, "This guy is the one"?

Harriet McDougal
The first thing that led me to Brandon was the very beautiful eulogy he wrote for Robert Jordan on his website, and I don't hang out on the net, because I figure I can either do that or have a productive life. [cheers, applause] But a friend who likes to hang out on the net saw the eulogy, printed it out, and said "You need to read this," and I certainly did. And I thought, "This is the spirit that I very much want in the writer who will finish the series."

At the same time, another writer—a perfectly good writer who has a decent reputation—had had his agent call Robert Jordan's agent. Do you see the difference? But then what really...I had not read Brandon, and I called Tom Doherty—I was originally...I was the original editorial director of Tor, so my relationship with with Tom Doherty goes back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth [laughter]—and I asked him for a book, and he said, "Well, don't take Elantris; that's a first novel. I'll send you Mistborn [The Final Empire]."

And he did, and I read forty-seven pages of it, and I fell asleep! Which is not... [laughter, applause] Wait! There's a thing you should know about professional editors, or at least this one. I cannot go to sleep while the story's in trouble; I have to keep reading until I see that the story is in good hands. And I was also exhausted. [laughter] So anyway, I woke up, and the story, the planet, the situation—even what they were eating—it was all clear, and I said, "Yeah, he can do it." And Tom Doherty said, "Well, don't you think you should read the whole book? It's an important decision." And I said, "It would be very important if I were hiring him to write a Brandon Sanderson novel, but I'm hiring him to write a Robert Jordan, and he can do it!" So, that's how it came about. [applause]

Adam Simmons
My name is Adam Simmons, and I'm from Atlanta, Georgia. [hoots] I really hope that I'm not misremembering something. I was trying to look it up on my Kindle, and I couldn't find it, so please God, let me not be wrong. [laughter]

In one of the Forsaken viewpoints in—I think it was Knife of Dreams or something?—one of the Forsaken was thinking about how, had circumstances been different, Demandred could have been named the Dragon. And what I'm wondering is, is "the Dragon" an actual title, or was Lews Therin born to be the Dragon, or was that a mantle he picked up along the way?

Brandon Sanderson
(looks at Maria and Harriet) [laughter]

Maria Simons
Not me!

Brandon Sanderson
I can say some things on this, but it's going to be more...it may not be the exact answers you want. I can say things that have been said. For instance, you can look at things like Logain, and how false Dragons were being brought up out of the Pattern, until Rand, and at that moment, everything collapsed. Until...and it was really when Rand channeled for the first time—am I correct?—that everything sort of collapsed. (to Maria) There's some parallels in there. When he what? No, it was when he took Callandor. Yeah, you're right.

Maria Simons
It was the visions in the sky!

Brandon Sanderson
In the sky? Okay. Until Rand took up the mantle—yeah, that's it—and so it's when Rand...and so, you could look at that and make the argument, "Wait a minute; until that moment, until Rand stepped up and was willing to be the Dragon, the Pattern was searching for one." And you can interpret that a lot of different ways, and you could probably make an argument—Theoryland could make an argument for both sides on that. [laughter] And if Rand had not stepped up, was that just the end of the world? Would the world have then been doomed, if Rand as a baby had been killed? That's something that you can theorize on, and you can look at the clues in the books, and Jim did not leave us an answer, so far as I know.

Adam Simmons
Okay, thank you.

Footnote
The quote in question was in Graendal's POV in the prologue of The Gathering Storm, which was presumably written by Brandon himself. In any case, "Dragon" was a title given to Lews Therin by his peers in the Age of Legends, so while it's possible Demandred could have been given that same title, it's not possible that he could have been the Champion of the Light. This is addressed by Matt Hatch at the end of the Q&A.

Michael Chantry
Hi, I'm Michael Chantry from Podunk [?] Idaho—[claps] someone knows the area. Thank you for the books; they're amazing. Thanks Robert Jordan for the books. I like them so much I actually named my second child Perrin. [applause]

My question is to both Brandon and Harriet. I know you love this new book, A Memory of Light, that you've created for us, and out of it, is there anything that we... What is your favorite part? What did you enjoy most about it? If you can give us a chapter, a section...anything. I know you're going to say "the whole thing." [laughter]

Brandon Sanderson
(flips through book) [laughter] There's a 200-page chapter in this book. [hoots, buzz of talking] I felt it very thematically important, and my favorite part is right at the end of that chapter and the beginning of the next chapter, and the next chapter is actually very short, and so really, it's probably Chapter 39, but with the lead-in at the end of chapter 38.

Michael Chantry
And Harriet, do you have a favorite part?

Brandon Sanderson
(talks to Peter) 37 and 38? Okay, 37 and 38. Peter knows these things better than I do. [laughter]

Harriet McDougal
Well, I love the end of Chapter 23—the final sequence—and as you're aware from Brandon's other books, I mean a lot of the chapters will have a piece here, and then there's a two-line space and you jump five hundred miles away, and so on, but the last segment of 23 I think is just super. But there are an awful lot of things that I do love in this book; the scene I read for you is one of my favorites; there's more of it, but I thought, "Oh, I don't know; I think I'm getting on too long," because we hadn't quite timed it out. I think it's a wonderful book. [laughter, applause]

Jason Denzel
I know that the question wasn't directed up here to me, but I think I definitely need to say that—without being cliche—the ending, the epilogue, was far and away everything I could have hoped it was, and it was my favorite part of the book. It was just...I can't wait for all of you to eventually read it, and hopefully have the same kind of reaction that I did. It's pretty awesome.

Brandon Sanderson
I can talk a little bit more about that, because...I told you the Asmodean story, but next under that sheet was this, was the...were the scenes that Robert Jordan had written for the book. And so, that included sections from the prologue, which got split into various pieces of the various prologues of the three novels; sections out of the book; and then this ending, the epilogue, and it's one of the most...one of the scenes where you're able to preserve, a sequence that's the most close to the way Robert Jordan left it. Because a lot of scenes he'd leave, he'd leave like a paragraph, and then it's like I have to expand that into, or I have to work a whole thing and then have that paragraph in.

There's a famous scene, for instance, with Verin in Gathering Storm where he left, you know, the kinda...what you would imagine is the important parts, but it's only the important parts, and then it doesn't have a lead-in or an exit to the scene, and so I had to write up and then lead in to what he'd written, and then lead out of it, and that sort of stuff. And this, it's actually...we've got complete sequences that he wrote before he passed away. And so, when you get to that epilogue, you can know...there's some very non-touched-by-the-rest-of-us stuff that he had in a very good shape to be published before he passed away.

Harriet McDougal
And I should have thought of that, but as he read it in 2007—and so did I, and I had known some bits of it for years before that—but it really is splendid.

Michael Chantry
Thank you very much. [applause]

Question
My name is [?] from [?] Utah. This is for you, Brandon. In his book Maphead, your former roommate and Jeopardy! champion [Ken Jennings] said that he liked having you as a roommate because you made him look good for the ladies. Would you like to defend yourself in public? [laughter, applause]

Brandon Sanderson
Well, referencing Ken, the second-most-famous roommate that lived together during that time...[laughter, cheers, applause]...I would have to say that I didn't take any liberties in my books to take public potshots at him, because I'm more secure than that. [laughter, applause] Our other roommate is actually right here filming us—Earl [Cahill], who was our roommate...[?].

Kevin
My name is Kevin [?] from Orem, Utah. My question is mostly directed at Harriet, but also anybody else on the panel who wants to jump in here.

One of the things I love about the books is that there's so many characters, and there are moments where like, each of the characters has their ups and downs, and there's chapters where like, "Man, Perrin is on fire," or "Mat is the greatest!" But if you could hang out with any character from this universe, you know—even disregarding what we know about Mat's similarities with Robert Jordan now—but if you could hang out with any character, who would it be?

And then also, for Harriet and Maria, if you could be any Ajah in the White Tower, which would you pick?

Harriet McDougal
Well, Maria and I have different fancies about the male characters. [laughter] She fancies herself...she fancies some Mat. Big time. [laughter] And I, on the other hand, have always been stuck by the numerous ways in which Robert Jordan resembles Perrin. Very large, as a former lineman for Clemson University would-be, and hairy, and very gentle, and I just...anyway, I think it'd be Perrin. And I'm torn between the Blue and the Brown. I think mostly Blue.

Maria Simons
And I am so Brown. [laughter]

Harriet McDougal
Actually, on one of these last book tours, Brandon looked at this thing I'm wearing around my neck, because this is a nice, non-losable thing to put on some color. [It resembles an Amyrlin's stole, narrow and tied in a knot.] And he said, "Oh..." looking at the stripes, "Orange. My favorite Ajah." [laughter]

Brandon Sanderson
And we're going to try and go for another fifteen minutes or so, so let's maybe suggest no more people getting in line, and we may not even get to the line as it is. So, if you're in line, stay there, but otherwise, let's cap it here and see where get get in the next fifteen minutes.

Chris Wells
I'll make this quick, then. My name is Chris Wells; I'm from Salt Lake City. I'm a bookseller, and avid Wheel of Time fan. I'm also the TAVEREN license plate guy. My question was for Brandon. I've started writing now, and I love to listen to music when I write. I was just curious about, what is your ritual for when you write? Do you like music? Do you like complete silence?

Brandon Sanderson
I usually have to listen to music. For some reason, I don't like the silence; I like something going. And so I usually...I generate Pandora stations based around different moods, and I'll turn them on for different sequences and different scenes. At some points, I will just pick out specific bands that I have music by, and I'll play that, depending on what I need to be writing. And so, yeah...there's a lot of different things, but it's often just Pandora-ish sort of backgroundy generic sort of things.

I do like...during my early years writing, I listened to a lot of what we call OverClocked remixes, because they were great. [cheers, applause] Game music—video game music—that were remixed into different orchestrations and stuff. And I was too poor to buy a lot of music, so I went and grabbed those, and so I still have many favorites among those.

Chris Wells
Okay, and then...just...because you two have created something so wonderful that has changed my life—it's my very favorite series—I made something for each of you. (holds up two necklaces) These are Amyrlin chains. They follow the seven colors of the Ajahs in the pattern of the Amyrlin's stole, and they are made from anodized aluminum. I made one of these for Harriet, and one for Brandon. [applause]

Brandon Sanderson
Thank you.

Harriet McDougal
Thank you!

Sarah Wilby
My name is Sarah Wilby, and I'm from here. Actually, I started going to this high school about the time the books came out. So I think this is probably the coolest event that has ever happened in this entire building, what's happening tonight. [laughter]

My question is—for Harriet—you said Robert Jordan had an engineering job with the government before he started writing books. How heavily did you try to dissuade him from giving that up to write this...this crazy fantasy stuff, because I remember what fantasy books were like at the time these started coming out, and I mean, this changed everything—there was nothing at this level—so he was doing something very, very different.

Harriet McDougal
I didn't know him when he quit to start writing. I met him, I guess a year or possibly two after he had stopped, and gave him the second contract he had been offered. The first was a contract given to him by DAW books, the little skinny ones with the yellow spine? And then the contract came with this nice, long letter from Donald Wollheim, the publisher. And he wrote back—he'd been taking a course in Business Law at the College of Charleston—and said, "Oh, I'm so glad to have your offer, but could I have a little more than five percent of the movie rights?" [laughter] Or something like that. And Wollheim wrote back a one-line letter: "In view of your contract attitude, I withdraw my offer." [laughter] But he was an optimist, and at that, rather madly, and chose to remember that on his first submission he'd gotten an offer, rather than "the son-of-a-gun withdrew the offer, and I will therefore be discouraged."

So I gave him what was a contract for his first published book, which was a historical novel called The Fallon Blood. And then, Doherty wanted somebody to write a Conan novel, after three Fallons, and distribution was drying up on the third book. And I said, well, because of this Wollheim rejection, I knew that Jim could write a Conan, and he said, "I don't want to do that." And three weeks later, I hadn't thought of anybody else, and I said [with pout] "Please!" With the lip...and he said, "Don't wiggle that thing at me, Harriet!" [laughter] So he did, and he liked it so much he did seven.

And so...I mean it was long after his quitting his job that this began, and I had nothing to do with that. [laughter] Except that, in the middle of all this, it looked as if my imprint—which had published his first thing and all—was going to go belly-up, and I was in the yard pulling wild onions, which is what I do in moments of insane stress, cause you never get rid of wild onions—it's impossible—and I was out there pulling these things up, saying "I can't go back to New York; I can't get a job; I'm in my f—" I guess I was forty. Anyway, "I'm forty; I'm too old!" You can't climb the corporate ladder after that. And he said, "Harriet, I can't go back to being an engineer for the Navy now that I've been writing Conan the Barbarian. Do you think they'll let me anywhere near their nuclear subs?" [laughter] And I looked up at him, and I laughed, and I said, "I guess not; we're both doomed!" [laughter]

Sarah Wilby
Thank you very much, all of you.

Jeremy Griffin
My name's Jeremy Griffin; I'm from Orem, Utah as well. I bought Eye of the World in 1991, so I've been reading them for a very, very long time. So thank you so much. By the way, Brandon—Alcatraz, fantastic—if you guys haven't read any of them...rarely does a book make me laugh out loud. So thank you. Thank you very much.

Harriet, did Mr. Jordan have enough clout to be able to push his last book through to make it one novel like he wanted to? He said two thousand pages, I don't care if that's what it is...could he have done that because of his history?

Harriet McDougal
Well, the problem is, it wasn't clout; it was pushing up against the laws of physics. [laughter] There are limits to the size a bound book can be without sort of falling apart the minute you open it. And then you're up against the shelf space in bookstores.

Jeremy Griffin
Okay, great. Real quick too, please don't sell the rights to a computer game for it if it's going to be as bad as [?] was...[laughter] Please, please don't do it.

Harriet McDougal
Ah, the rights are sold. [laughter]

Aaron
Hey, I'm Aaron from West Jordan. I started reading the series in middle school, and discovered Brandon in high school, and was overjoyed when I heard he was taking over. This question is mostly for Harriet, and anyone that's not Peter or Brandon. Did you ever finish Mistborn, and have you read any other of Brandon's books, and which was your favorite.

Harriet McDougal
Ahahaha. [laughter] I did a guest-edit on The Way of Kings, which is a super book. [applause]

Elizabeth
My name's Elizabeth; I'm from Eagle Mountain. And, Brandon is kind of known as "the magic system guy," and so I was just wondering, what was it like to work with saidar, saidin, and Robert Jordan's magic system in comparison to your magic systems, and how did Robert Jordan's magic system influence your development of magic systems?

Brandon Sanderson
I really have always liked, obviously, his system, which is part of why I love the books. His system had this nice mix between the visual aspect—I really loved the weaving, and things like this—and it had some interesting ramifications on physics and whatnot, and I also liked a lot of the sense of mystery to it, in that they didn't know everything, which is one thing that I like, when a magic system—you know, I like to write very rule-based magic systems, but I feel that, if you know everything...I mean, we don't know everything about physics; we don't know everything about science, and so how can you know everything about the magic, which is the science of a certain world? That said, Jim generally was more flexible with himself on allowing himself to do different things with the magic. He had a more open-ended magic system, I would guess. A lot more weaves were created, and things like that, and I tend to make my magic systems more restrictive.

Because of this, growing into the books, I worried that, working in a system where I was uninhibited in that way, that I would just go completely bonkers. [laughter] And so, when I sat down to work in this system, I decided it was...when necessary I would develop new weaves, but that I would resist the urge, and that there had been so much developed by Jim so far that I would use weaves either in the books or from the notes whenever possible, and I would prefer to take those and try to go new places with them as opposed to developing lots of new and different weaves, which is why you see me doing things like pushing gateways a little bit further, because I thought there was a lot of room to explore there, or pushing what Perrin does in the wolf dream, and these sorts of things, because these are established systems that Jim created for me, and for all of us, and I felt there was so much room to move in those that I didn't need to go other places. There are some places in the books where a new weave was appropriate, and we did that, but I tried very hard to cap that, because I worried I would just do too much, if that makes any sense.

I really enjoyed working with it. In fact, the Wheel of Time...in a lot of ways, the Wheel of Time doing what it did had prevented me in my career from ever approaching doing those things, if that makes any sense. Because I loved the Wheel of Time, I didn't want to be repeating something that...I didn't want to be, you know, accused of just copying Robert Jordan. And so, because of that, you don't see me writing a lot of the types of things that he did, like you know I'd always wanted to do a dream world, but I never did a dream world because the Wheel of Time had done one so well. And then when I was able to work on this, I got to kind of do all of those things that I'd made off-limits to myself because Robert Jordan had done them already, and done them so well, and it was pretty awesome to be able to do that. It was one of my favorite parts about doing this, is all these things that were on my list of "Robert Jordan did this so don't do it," suddenly became things I could do. So... [applause]

Elizabeth
Thank you.

Jason Denzel
And as a follow-up to that, I think that, instead of just being the magic system guy, I think that Brandon has every right to be the good, quality compelling character guy. So... [applause]

Question
After a lot of those, my question is kind of simple. First of all, Harriet, thank you. These characters have been my friends for twenty years, and so just thank you to you for helping...everything that you've done in that process. But my question is—reading this so many times, I've always associated myself with a few characters: Perrin and then Lan Mandragoran—and I'm just wondering—and this could be open to anybody, but mainly you three—who do you really relate yourselves with, of the main characters there?

Brandon Sanderson
I have frequently said that Perrin was my favorite all along. I was a Perrin fan, even when Perrin was in...some...some...a darker place in his life. [laughter] You know, if you're a Cubs fan, you don't abandon the Cubs just because they haven't, you know, won a World Series in a hundred years. [laughter] And if you're a Perrin fan, you don't abandon Perrin just because he's struggling in his life with some important questions. No, it's been Perrin. Even though Mat stole the show in later books, I was still a Perrin guy.

Harriet McDougal
And I guess I'm....I love 'em all. [laughter]

Audience
Perrin! [laughter]

Maria Simons
I wish I was ....well, like some of Verin. I didn't really want to be evil, or anything. [laughter] But I like Verin. She was sneaky, sneaky...but she got things done, and she turned out alright.

Harriet McDougal
And she had that owl. [laughter]

Heather
Hi, I'm Heather; I am from Lehi, Utah. The last time we came to the booksigning two years ago, I was also very pregnant, and I gave birth 24 hours later. [laughter] So cross your fingers!

But my question is...I have not been a Wheel of Time fan as long as my husband—he introduced me to them after we were married—and I know that the female characters get a lot of hate from the fans sometimes, cause...well, I've always loved them; I thought they were really well-developed, and I really love the woman's world that's been developed in the series, too; you at least see Elayne's midwife appointments, and we see a lot of other things, and the women's magic is almost exclusively through the books until Rand comes along and kinds of makes things for the guys better again.

So, how...I don't know how to phrase this, but how did Robert Jordan write about women so well, because a lot of times I feel like he hits the nail right on the head. Did you really influence that, Harriet, or...was he just a sensitive guy? [laughter]

Harriet McDougal
I did not consciously influence it. At a very early signing in California, a group of women came in, in long skirts, and they had on kind of shawls, and long hair, and they went up to him at the signing table—there were three or four of them—and they said, "Well, this settles an argument." And he was looking up at them, and he said, "About what?" And they said, "We felt that Robert Jordan must be the nom de plume of a woman writer, because who could write women that well?" And he said, "Well, I'm not." [laughter] Looking up through his beard. [laughter]

But he, with the first book I think it was, Tor sent down a fan letter, and very sillily, had taken it out of the envelope, and it was a hand-written letter from a woman in Florida, who said, "You have answered the question that Freud was afraid of: 'What do women want?' They want power, just like men." [laughter, applause] And I think maybe that's what made his women so good.

Heather
Thank you.

Harriet McDougal
Good luck, and I hope you get home safely this time! [laughter]

Bradley Johnson
I'm Bradley Johnson. I'm local. I'm fairly new to the series. My question is primarily for Jason, but it's open to anybody. I believe you've had this question before, but a few months ago there were a few articles on tor.com as a kind of recap of the series as a whole. The last one was, "What are titles for hypothetical Wheel of Time musical numbers." [laughter] And I was wondering if you had anything to add to that, or if anyone else had anything to add to that.

Jason Denzel
I'm going to pass that along. They tried to drag some answers out of me for that, and I passed on it. I'm going to stick to film. So there you go.

Harriet McDougal
Well, there are a number of titles of songs in the books, including alternate titles, as I'm sure you know. And you could write your own—well, for fan purposes...I mean, you can write the risque versions and the nice versions [laughter]...and I've always loved "The Wind that Shakes the Willow". [laughter]

Brandon Sanderson
We blame people like these, that came up with this, but I do want to—and thank you for your question—I do want to hand...(to Matt) You had a correction on something we said earlier? Do you have it? Okay, Matt's going to correct us from what we were unable to answer, because Robert Jordan apparently gave an answer.

Matt Hatch
So, there was a question about the Dragon soul, and whether that was a title or not—was that your question?—so, he did answer. Someone asked him, because it had to do with...the entirety of the question was, you know, can it change? Could it be a woman, could it be a female? Would it be the same person in a new Turning? And his point, his answer was, it could not be female—that the soul would remain the same gender—and he also said that it would not necessarily be Rand in the next Turning. So in other words, it would still be that same soul, but it would not be—necessarily—the Rand story, the next time around. It might be...whatever. And he talked about it just because, looking at the Pattern as things change in Turnings, little things are going to change, or I guess in this case, maybe it's something bigger. So, I don't know if that answers your question, but that is answered again.

Adam Simmons
The question was really more about Lews Therin as the original Dragon, or as the original Dragon that we know about, and was he born to be the Dragon, or is that something that he kind of grew into?

Matt Hatch
It's the soul, the soul is the Dragon.

Adam Simmons
Okay, so he was born to it.

Brandon Sanderson
So, we are going to come to an ending here, but before we do, we have give-aways. [applause] And then, as a quick reminder, we have already signed all of the books, and you're going to be able to pick them up, and if you live locally, you could just grab your book—or even if you don't—and take off; you don't have to wait around—and you can find me at another point and get it personalized; I do plenty of signings around. If you want to hang out and get it personalized, I'll be here personalizing. If you have a question that didn't get answered, Maria is going to be sitting nearby answering questions until about 3am. [laughter, applause] And the later it gets, the more sketchy the answers may become; we're not sure. [laughter] We are going to let Harriet go back to the hotel and get some rest.

Harriet McDougal
I'm playing the geezer card. [laughter]

Brandon Sanderson
But, you know, I do want to even personally give Harriet a thank-you for coming out for this. [applause, standing ovation]

Harriet McDougal
Well, oh! I would like to give you all a personal thank-you for coming out for tonight. Y'all have just been wonderful. And, thank you very much.

Brandon Sanderson
Alright, and we're going to do the give-aways, and after that we'll be going but, Harriet, do you want to go off and get the car and get going, or do you want to wait for the give-aways?

Harriet McDougal
I want to wait for the give-aways.

Brandon Sanderson
Okay, we're going to do the give-aways right now, and then we'll close it out. So...
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