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Old 08-20-2012, 09:47 PM
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Default LibertyCon AMOL Update Panel

Thanks to my friend Lucas for helping with the transcription, and to whoever filled in the name of the forum Brandon was talking about (SFWA).

PS—I added lots of links when I put it in the database.

http://www.twotcast.com/webpage/t-wo-tcast-episode-73

21 July 2012, Chattanooga

Jennifer Liang

Down here at the end, this is Joe O'Hara. He is one of the co-hosts of twotcast, which is one of several Wheel of Time podcasts, and so he's actually recording this panel right now so it'll be online later.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, great! Oh, thanks for warning me about that!

Jennifer Liang

It's okay; this is gonna be the soberest twotcast ever; it'll be fun. Over here is Jeff Daniel; like I said before, he's one of the co-owners of Ta'veren Tees. And I'm Jennifer Liang; if you guys don't know me, I help run Dragonmount, I do the WoTFAQ now, I chair JordanCon, and I run the Wheel of Time track at DragonCon. I really don't have that much spare time; I don't know how I'm getting all this stuff done. So, this is our A Memory of Light panel...

Brandon Sanderson

The next-to-last one ever, I bet, because the last one would be at DragonCon, and then that's, like, it. For, after that, the books are all out.

Jennifer Liang

Pretty much, and then it's all like, "What did you do, Brandon?"

Brandon Sanderson

"Brandon, why did you kill..." I'm not gonna say.

Jennifer Liang

"You killed Cadsuane! What's wrong with you?"

Joe O'Hara

I would congratulate him for that one.

Brandon Sanderson

Luckers would just murder me.

Jennifer Liang

Yeah. Yeah, he would.

Brandon Sanderson

He already is ready to murder me, because I don't treat Cadsuane with the respect that he thinks I need to treat Cadsuane, which...there may be legitimate gripes there; I don't know.

Jennifer Liang

Luckers is one of the admins over at Dragonmount, and he's got a few axes to grind.

Brandon Sanderson

Yep. Cadsuane's one of them. Every time I pop over to Dragonmount it seems like there's some thread about something, and I look in, and Luckers is complaining about Cadsuane. Every time. It's amazing; he's like your forum's Jerry Pournelle. Jerry's always on the SFWA forums and has an axe to grind. You know, he's always saying intelligent stuff, but it seems like he's always there saying his stuff. It's like, you click on a thread, and there's Jerry saying, you know, intelligent things—he's Jerry Pournelle; he's brilliant!—but he's always there, so...yeah. There's Jerry, and he does never not have an opinion. Yep. So...

Jennifer Liang

So, for people who don't stalk you on the Twitter, how about you tell us how far you are right now in the revision process.

Brandon Sanderson

My progress bar is not updated because I'm lazy—I need to tell Peter to update that when I post. I'm 50% through—maybe more like 55% of the way through the final revision of the last book. So, the final revision, here's how the process goes for those who are curious: I turned in the book like January 1st. At that point, that was first draft. Usually, I don't do revisions from editorial revisions on the first draft. I actually go through it a second time and do a second draft, and that's what I turn in. If I can get the time, I turn in a third draft. This time I turned in a second draft, so I did first draft and I said, "Okay, wait two weeks and let me get ahead of you in the second draft," and I was just sending them chunks as I finished the second draft. There's not time on this book to do the whole thing straight through and then send it, and things, and so they then start sending back things, and I start the third draft immediately, and we keep doing that until we get to this one which is seventh draft, I think is where we are right now—somewhere in there—like I've been, some of them I would do two drafts while I was waiting for things back on theirs.

Anyway, and they just kept feeding me sixth draft sort of stuff that [had] been sitting on my computer, and they finally got the last of that to me last week which means that Maria and Alan and Harriet are all done, and it's all on me just to finish the last tweaks that they've requested in the book, and that's what this draft is, is the last tweaks. Things that they say, "Hey, we need this little thing fixed; we need to add this thing to this scene," or all that little stuff. Nothing major is happening in this one. I did add one new scene in this draft that I felt we needed but it's kind of a short one—it's only like five pages—um, but yeah, so that's where we are. My hope is, and goal is, to be able to turn it in next week some time. I dunno how viable that is. I'm probably way past 55% as I think about it, because I've been working each night. I was at 50% on like Wednesday, so I'm probably around the two-thirds mark, or something, right now, and then that will be it; it'll go to copy-edit and proofreads, all of which are handled by Team Jordan, of which I don't do anything unless they come up with a major continuity error or something like that. Somewhere in there, it will hopefully go to our lovely beta readers to make sure that I didn't put people in two places, so...that Sulin doesn't end up in two places at once. They missed that one though, so you can blame all of us on that one.

Jennifer Liang

I was like, "Whoa, a Wheel of Time book, I'm gonna just read this; I can't talk to anybody about it."

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. So, anyway, it'll go to copyedit and proofreads, and hopefully some beta reads for three months or so, and then it'll go to the printers, and that takes about...it's about a three month process, and they'll ship 'em here, and we ship 'em out to bookstores, and then that's when it comes out.

Jennifer Liang

Now, have they started talking about where signings are going to be taking place?

Brandon Sanderson

They have. And there's a little bit of a wrinkle. This is starting to become public knowledge: Emily, my wife, is pregnant. (applause) Thank you. The unexpected baby is due the 22nd of January, and the book is coming out the 8th of January. So, we're gonna play it by ear.; the bulk of the tour might be shifted until February. My goal right now is like, on the 8th, to go do like five or six signings, and then wait, and then do a bigger tour in February once the baby has come, and once we have mothers-in-law staying at the house or things like that. And so, probably...originally I was going to do the release party in Charleston, but Harriet said that since I’ve been doing them in Provo all this time, we have everything set up to handle all these people, and people camping out and things like that, and she said she would rather do that. So the release party will probably be there, and…

Jennifer Liang

You’re talking about the midnight release?

Brandon Sanderson

The midnight release party. The midnight release party will probably be in Provo and then we’ll do a handful more dates, one of which will probably be in Charleston, across the next five days, and then we’ll put everything else off until February. And I don’t know where those handful of dates are going to be yet; it seems likely that we would try to do, like, one in San Diego, probably, and then one in New York and then one in Charleston, you know, try and hit everything, and then maybe one in Chicago, so it’s like, each region we’re at least doing one, is the goal. But we will be in Charleston, which is kind of close to you guys. I think it’s important that we do a signing in Charleston for the last book.

Jennifer Liang

And Brandon will be at JordanCon in Atlanta…

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I will be.

Jennifer Liang

…So if you want to come see him in April, you can.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I will be there. Definitely, that will be my first con after all of this, so...depending on the fan reaction…(laughter) I may be there...

Jennifer Liang

We may be there with some tar and some feathers…

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I may be there in armor, but I will be there, one way or another. So, there you go.

Jennifer Liang

So, let’s let Brandon be quiet for a minute and let’s ask Joe and Jeff, what kinds of things are you looking forward to seeing in A Memory of Light? And we’ll just kind of watch what Brandon does. (laughter)

Jeffrey Daniel

I think one of the biggest things that I’m looking forward to is just having closure on everything. I’ve been reading this book series since I was about twelve years old. It was actually the first book I ever really picked up, was The Eye of the World; before that I read comic books, and I was in a bookstore one day, and I happened to pick it up and of course, Darrell Sweet’s artwork was what really grabbed my attention, and I was standing there and my mom was looking at me, and she said “I bet you can’t read that.” And so I was like, “Oh yeah? Oh, it’s on!” So I read it, and then right when I finished it, I handed it right to her and I said, “I bet you can’t read this.” And so, she’s read the entire series along with me, and it’s been a part of my life since I was twelve, so to have it come to a close is kind of sad in some aspects, and sometimes you don’t want it to end.

Jennifer Liang

We were talking about this the other day. Brandon read a little excerpt from the first chapter at ComicCon last weekend, and I haven’t been able to go to tor.com and read that little excerpt, because I’m not ready to start the last book yet. Usually I’m all over preview material, I’m like “Yes! Fresh Wheel of Time!” But I can’t get started yet; I’m not ready.

Jeffrey Daniel

I think it's just, I'm looking forward to having closure, but at the same time, I'm not. So I think that overall that's what I'm looking forward to the most.

Joe O'Hara

Well, to comment on what you're saying, I kind of feel the same way, but in a way it doesn't even seem real that it's ending yet, 'cause it just hasn't set in, sort of. So, I don't really know how I feel about it, then, but...more specifically, in the text, I guess I'm really excited to see...a lot of reunions are coming, you know, like maybe Moiraine. I don't know...who knows who she's going to be interacting with throughout the book, so it's gonna be really cool to see a lot of characters that have been separated for so many of the books of the series coming back together for the Last Battle.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I kill her in the prologue, sorry. [She] doesn't meet anybody. (laughter)

Joe O'Hara

So, I really like Moiraine. (laughter) But that's going to be cool, I think.

Jennifer Liang

One of the questions that people always ask me is: What's going to happen to the fandom after the Wheel of Time is over? Because we're pretty much a fandom that is based on waiting for the last book. (laughter) We've been waiting for that last book for a long time. And so, people keep asking, "Well, what are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?" And I'm like, "Well, we're going to do the things that we've been doing; we're going to talk about how much we like the books; we're gonna keep going to JordanCon, and going to the websites, and things like that." What do you guys think is going to happen with the fandom and all this stuff that we've done?

Brandon Sanderson

If we're very lucky, there will be some good video games that come out and things like that, and that could be...I've always felt that's a great way to kind of continue the Wheel of Time without having to risk Jim's legacy with more books, if that makes sense. If there was a way that the outriggers could be done as an epic trilogy of RPG adventures, or something like that, or you know, some of the prequel stuff, I would love to play something that's like the Mass Effect / Dragon Age version of Tam's story, going out of the Two Rivers and going and fighting a war, and things like that. And so, if...hopefully, if that can happen and Red Eagle is able to get those going, you will still have some stuff like those coming that don't necessarily have to be 100% canon, that you can accept and say, "Okay, this is interpretation..."

Jennifer Liang

It's a Portal Stone.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, exactly; it's a Portal Stone version of things, and I hope that will happen.

Joe O'Hara

That would be exciting, if they do that.

Jennifer Liang

Yeah, I might actually start playing video games again if that was going on.

Question

I was going to ask if Mat was going to finally go to Seanchan and take the throne?

Brandon Sanderson

Here's the thing about spoiler questions. I'm only going to answer things that Robert Jordan has already said. And so, the only answer I can give you to that is, if you want that spoiler, go read what the outriggers were going to be about. This is the sequel trilogy that Robert Jordan said he was going to write that we're actually not going to do, and that might give you some clue of what's going to happen in that plotline in A Memory of Light.

(silence)

Wow, this is the least question-filled room of you Wheel of Time fans I've ever experienced. Where's Emma when you need her?

Jennifer Liang

Sorry, I just lost my train of thought.

Joe O'Hara

We got one up front. Sir?

Question

I'm just wondering, where do you find the outrigger outlines or whatever?

Brandon Sanderson

The Q&A database, which is now hosted....where? Where's Terez have that?

Jennifer Liang

I dunno, she keeps moving it around, so I can't keep it straight. She's gonna have a link somewhere on the Theoryland forums to that.

Brandon Sanderson

If you look for the Wheel of Time Q&A database, would be a great place, but I've done just googling....

Jennifer Liang

It's also in the Wheel of Time FAQ, if you can find wotfaq.dragonmount.com, and there's a question on there like, 'What other books was Robert Jordan planning?'...something like that, and that's where I wrote out about the outriggers and things like that.

Brandon Sanderson

If you just google 'Robert Jordan' and 'outriggers', I've found quotes by him, and that's what I've used to guide what I say about them, is just by doing that google search, because I know more about them, obviously, than he's said, and I try to keep to not saying very much about those just because they may be used for video games or things like that in the future, so I don't want to give spoilers to what someone's else's story might end up being.

Question

So you were saying how you just added another scene recently, but do you think that'll be the actual last writing you do?

Brandon Sanderson

It probably will end up being the last actual writing, will be that scene.

Question

Is it sort of like, you know, cathartic to you, or is it...you're so close to the end...

Brandon Sanderson

I'm so close to the end...ask me after the end. It's really weird, adding these new scenes. It's kinda like the shawarma scene from The Avengers...you know, they added that way after the fact, and that becomes their last touch—of course they'll probably do a sequel and things—but it's weird to add these scenes that are just right in the middle of the book, and that's actually the last writing you do, and that's the last writing you'll do on the Wheel of Time, if I don't add any more scenes, it will be this random little scene that's really just there to patch a hole, where I'm like "Oh, I haven't...you know, never mentioned this; I didn't foreshadow this correctly; I need an extra little scene here." It's by no means the most powerful scene in the book—it's a set-up scene, and it might end up being the last scene that I did—so if you ask me after the book's out, I'll tell you what it is.

Joe O'Hara

Jeff, do you have a comment on that? 'Where do you think the fandom's gonna go?' You do run a business based on that.

Jeffrey Daniel

Yeah, well, with our business, it really goes where the fandom wants it to go, you know...what do you guys want to see? We do t-shirts now, we have a license for novelty items. Of course, we're gonna be doing playing cards soon; those will be coming out some time soon, whenever Ariel finishes a couple of revisions on those. But we're here to provide you with whatever Wheel of Time items you want to see and buy from us, so if you have any suggestions, just send them to us, contact@taverentees.com, and the more people that ask for something, the more likely we are to make it. So with that regards, I know A Memory of Light will be coming out in January; we are planning to do a Memory of Light shirt probably in the November-December time frame, so you can look for that around then. But yeah, it's basically up to the fandom. That's one of our missions statements: we're here to service whatever merchandising needs you need.

Jennifer Liang

And it is really nice, 'cause I've been in the Wheel of Time fandom since like 1998, and we had to make this stuff ourselves, with like gel paints and markers on our own t-shirts, and Kiley knows, 'cause she was the one that started making all the tees at the first JordanCon, so it's really nice to be able to just pull out a credit card and order something from a website instead of scouring the internet for something that looks sort of like a Wheel of Time thing. Like, my Great Serpent ring is not the officially licensed one because I've had it since before there was an officially licensed one, and it was just a random snake ring I saw on a sterling silver jeweler's table, and I'm like, "I'm buying this right now!" and he didn't understand why I was so excited.

Joe O'Hara

You want to mention what you said last night, Jeff, about the banners? That's exciting.

Jeffrey Daniel

Yeah, that's something that we want to do in the future. If you guys went to the room party last night and you saw the banners that were hanging around the rooms...

Jennifer Liang

Yeah, somebody had to make those for me.

Jeffrey Daniel

Yeah, and that's something that we're looking at doing in the future too, is making the banners.

Question

[something about the prequels and fanfiction]

Jennifer Liang

Fan fiction has never really taken off in the Wheel of Time fandom. Partly the reason for that is because Robert Jordan did not like fanfic—he didn't like other people playing in his sandbox—and so when me and Jason became aware that he didn't like fanfic, we pretty much killed it on Dragonmount, and because we killed it on Dragonmount, that meant everybody else killed it too, because people pretty much follow our lead, so there's never really been a lot of fanfic in the Wheel of Time. There is some out there—if you look around you can find some like on fanfic.net—but it's never really taken off for whatever reason. And I think it's partly because we killed it very quickly, but I think it's also partly because a lot of what is special about the Wheel of Time is the unique voice of Robert Jordan, and for the most part other people writing in that universe, it's crap. Even if they're a really good writer, it's...[Brandon] is really the only person I like writing in the Wheel of Time universe other than Jim, so...I think that's another reason why it doesn't take off, because it's pretty obvious it's not Robert Jordan.

Brandon Sanderson

Right, the Wheel of Time is about Robert Jordan's voice in a lot of ways, and the reason we're all still reading this is because we like that voice. And there are books that are slower than other books, and those of us who just love his voice, love those books.

Jennifer Liang

It doesn't matter, I really like Crossroads of Twilight. I'm sorry!

Brandon Sanderson

Yes, because that's what we're reading the books for. I mean, of course it's the characters also, but time with Jim and the characters is what these books are about, and as much as we like the epic battles and things, at their core it's Jim and the characters.

Jennifer Liang

Yeah, and it's his prose, and it's his writing style, and just the way he presents everything. And so, fanfic can't capture that.

Joe O'Hara

I think there's a real loyalty to him as an author as well when you find out, as a fan, that he doesn't like that kind of fanfiction, then you don't even feel inclined to do it.

Brandon Sanderson

He was very—I mean, if you guys read the interviews—it was only like the last minutes that he changed his mind on even having the series finished by someone else. For years, he was gonna...what was it, burn his hard drives, and things like that...

Jennifer Liang

...and salt the earth, yeah...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. There was going to be no ending. It was only like the last month or two that he said, "No, go ahead and find somebody and have it finished." So, yeah.

Joe O'Hara

We're all really glad that he said that.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, you almost didn't have this.

Audience

[something about hunting the guy down and taking his kneecaps]

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah.

Jennifer Liang

So, watch out for those kneecaps.

Brandon Sanderson

Okay. If my kneecaps float off mysteriously...

Joe O'Hara

That is mysterious.

Brandon Sanderson

...and you see a shadow with the hat and a cane, and maybe a pipe... (laughter)

Question

When you were at DragonCon a few years ago, and that's the first time I saw you, and you were just starting on the endeavor at the time; I think you had just been selected...

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. Right. I could barely say the names right back then, and half the time I didn't say them right...

Jennifer Liang

You were so cute. (laughter)

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. I was very, very scared of the Wheel of Time fandom...

Jennifer Liang

We were very scared of you; we didn't know what was gonna happen.

Question

...so, the interesting thing is at the time, I think you said the first thing you did was you wanted to find out who killed Asmodean, and that got the whole room laughing at the time, and you talked about how you briefed yourself on all the material that was left, and [?] and everything, and you said Jim wanted one final novel, but you didn't see any way. You made an estimate of the number of words, hundreds of thousands of words...

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. 800,000 was my initial estimate.

Question

And what did it end up being? I'm just curious.

Brandon Sanderson

It ended up being around, let's see...around nine, maybe ten...so, a hundred—or a million words, right around.

Question

It grew!

Brandon Sanderson

It grew a bit, yeah. And part of that is the fact of cutting it gave me a little more space to do that, and part of it was, you know, little touches here and there. You never can guess really exactly. It didn't grow by enormous amounts—it grew by maybe ten or twenty percent, which is within a reasonable threshold when I guesstimate a book length—but yeah, it did grow a bit, and after the books are all out, I'll tell you some of the things that grew, some of the things that got added. There were things that weren't in the initial outline that I decided needed to be in the books as I was writing them, and that happens with every book that you're going to be doing.

The process for writing this book, for those who haven't heard: When I walked in there and I was given this, I was given a stack of about two hundred pages. I don't know how much I've talked about this at this con so far; I talked about this recently somewhere. Oh, it was on the interview I did, first day. It's gonna go up on the air somewhere. So, about two hundred pages. I can release that number because Tom Doherty released it at DragonCon, I believe it was. He got up and said, "This is how much we had." And, Robert Jordan was what we call a 'discovery writer'; George R. R Martin calls it a 'gardener'. He would not write chronologically; he would write on whatever occurred to him at the moment. He would 'discover' his way through a book. He usually had an ending in mind, and things like that, and important scenes he was gonna write, but he would very much just feel it out as he went. This is very common among writers; it’s one of the main archetypes of writers there are out there. Stephen King does it this way too. Neil Gaiman says he does it a lot this way too. You kind of feel your way through.

But what it means is that what was handed to me, they had been arranged by Alan, one of the members of Team Jordan, into an order that he kind of thought they might go in, but there was really no indication from Jim [as to] the order of these scenes. They were just a list of scenes. And where those had come from are scenes that he had worked on, which a large number of them were half-complete, because he would just write on what he felt like at the time, get a few pages in, then set it aside and then think about it some more while he’d work on something else. So there were a lot of fragmentary scenes. There are a lot of scenes you’ll be reading in these three books where it’s like three pages of Robert Jordan and like three pages of me making up a scene, or a page or Robert Jordan, two pages of me and then another page of Robert Jordan, or things like that. A lot of those, there are places here and there where I’ve grabbed a paragraph of his, because the rest wasn’t finished, it was just a paragraph where he said, “It’s going to do this, and then here’s this paragraph of this great sequence.” And so a lot of it was like that.

A lot of it was interviews. During the last months, his cousin Wilson and members of Team Jordan would be talking to him and Jim would start talking about scenes. There’s a famous one, “There’s a ______ in the Blight,” which is a quote from Wilson. That was a time when Jim told him—you’ll have to have him tell that story some time, it’s awesome—but Jim just started going off—Jim is Robert Jordan, for those who didn’t know—Jim would go off on...he just talked through this entire scene. And that’s one of the ones that we had the most understanding of, in a lot of ways, some of these scenes where he would talk about them.

For instance, the first scene in The Gathering Storm, there’s a prologue with an old farmer sitting on his front porch. This scene was dictated by Jim, and we actually had the recording of that, it got played at JordanCon I. And the interesting thing, if you were to have listened to that or if I can just describe it to you. It’s all in present tense. It’s like, “There’s this farmer, and he’s sitting on the porch and he looks up and he sees the clouds. These are black and silver clouds, and he’s never seen black and silver clouds before; they’re very striking.” And Jim goes through this whole narrative like that. Well, that’s very complete as a scene, he does the whole thing. And yet it’s in present tense, without a lot of the language turned into written language' it’s talked though.

Jennifer Liang

Right, there’s one point where he describes a sound as sounding like a freight train. Well, you can’t say it sounds like a freight train in the Wheel of Time, that doesn’t make any sense.

Brandon Sanderson

Exactly. There’s that scene, so I had several of those scenes, where basically I can keep Jim’s voice intact and just tweak the words a little bit to make them fit and add in a few sentences of description here and there, and we had several of those scenes. Then there were the Q&A scenes, which were Maria saying “So what happens to this character?” “Well, let me tell you what happens to this character.” And then Jim would talk. And so because of those Q&As, we knew a lot about the ending—a whole ton—and he did write the last scene himself and he talked through where everyone ends up and things, and so the bulk, and I’ve said all along, the weight of what we had from him was about that ending, where he would go and say “Here’s what happens to this character,” and it’s really talking about here’s what happens to this character in the Last Battle and then after the Last Battle, assuming there is an after the Last Battle, this is where this character would go. And so we have that basically for everybody.

Jennifer Liang

You and Harriet had a great way of describing it at one of the book signings for The Gathering Storm. You said that you had a map of the United States and you knew that at the end of the book that Perrin ends up in Chicago, but he starts off in like Orlando, and you know that he has to go to Los Angeles before he can get to Chicago, but you don’t know all the other steps in between and why he’s going to Los Angeles, so they had to figure out all the in-between parts.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, there are great things where there’s just like a line from his notes. “And then Perrin is here doing this.” And you’re like “What? Perrin’s in Malden, how is he gonna get there? And he’s going to do what? And then he’s got to be up here to do what?” And then we know the ending, what he’s doing there. So, there was a lot of that. So, this all became the book, where I built an outline out of this, I took the scenes that he had said. The thing about the notes is that a lot of the notes were to him, and so he would say things like “I’m going to do this or this” and they’re polar opposites. And so there are sequences like that, where I decide what we’re going to do, and stuff like that. And this all is what became the trilogy that you’re now reading.

Jeffrey Daniel

So what do you think the most challenging part of writing A Memory of Light was? Was it those logistics, or was it writing battle scenes, or…

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the battle scenes were the toughest part of A Memory of Light, definitely. At least the toughest for me, because it’s not necessarily something I naturally excel at. I think I’m okay at it. I’ve read a lot of books...but I’ve read a lot of books. I haven’t done it. Fortunately, Alan Romanczuk has done it. He was a soldier and Jim was a soldier, so I’m really relying a lot on him for getting it to feel right. You know, my book learning only gets me so far in the way that tactics are done and the way a battlefield plays out. So, that’s been one of the big slow-downs for this. The other big slow-down for this has been just making sure we get everything in there. There are a lot of things that need to go in the book and there are some things that aren’t going to make it. Jim said that certain things don’t get resolved, and there are certain things we just didn’t have time for and we said, “Okay, this just doesn’t get resolved.” And I’m sorry about that. He warned you, I will warn you: there are some non-resolutions.

Joe O'Hara

I don’t know how other people would feel about that, but I kind of enjoy that. To me, that’s where a fandom would go. We can continue to speculate and wonder and think about.

Jennifer Liang

Yeah, it gives us something to talk about. We can ride that or like ten years at least. (laughter)

Jeffrey Daniel

JordanCon will be good for a while. We’ll have a lot of talking panels on that one.

Brandon Sanderson

I will try to keep them quiet. There are two deleted scenes from the book that actually covered very interesting things. And after the books are out I will give you guys some hints and then you can spend the next ten years deciding what was in them.

Jennifer Liang

Yeah, we’ll ask you some really weird questions over the next ten years. We used to do that to Robert Jordan. We’d ask him very oblique questions, hinting at the thing we really wanted to know, because we were like doing process of elimination, and logic trees and…yeah, he caught on.

Jeffrey Daniel

So, Brandon, are you going to be involved with the encyclopedia when that’s prepared?

Brandon Sanderson

Probably not much. And Robert Jordan wasn’t going to have much. That was always going to be Harriet’s project, and so, you know, there are certain thing I want to see included, and I’ll say, “Hey, would you include these,” but it’s really her project.

Phillip

For Brandon, you have a career on your own as an author.

Brandon Sanderson

Yes.

Phillip

Since you’ve had this other career—which has helped, I’m sure, in a lot of ways—what impact has this been on your original writing career, I mean I know you had to have slowed down your progress and your series, but you’ve still been writing those. What are the biggest impacts you’ve seen on your writing career because of taking on the Wheel of Time?

Brandon Sanderson

It’s definitely done some...it's made me have to put down projects. In fact, next year, I have coming out the projects I was working on in 2007 when this came my way; The Rithmatist and Steelheart are both books that I did way back then that I didn’t feel that I was able to release in the middle of the Wheel of Time books, even though I had them done, because I wouldn’t have been able to do the revisions on them, and because I wouldn’t be able to support them; I wouldn’t be able to do sequels and things like that. They’re both YA books. And that's, you know...when I accepted this, I said “Okay, I’m shelving these things.” I did get to do a couple of books, I got to do The Way of Kings, which, granted, I already had a draft of that done. So really, the only book in these last years, the last five years that I’ve been doing this, that I’ve written from scratch and released was Alloy of Law. And so it's going to...it did kind of slow me down. The only reason it didn’t slow me down as much as it could have was because I had all of this stuff done already. I had a great big backlog of books, because I enjoy writing, and I’ve been writing for years, and back then I wasn’t as popular as I am now, so Tor would put things in slots later on, like...while I’ve been working on these, Warbreaker and Mistborn 3 came out, both of which were done years before I was offered the Wheel of Time. And so...yeah, all of this stuff that I had been working on long ago got delayed, and that was just fine—I went into this eyes open—but it is going to be nice to be able to go back to these things and give them some of the support that I’ve wanted all along.

You know, this project took more time than all of us expected it to. I had to say yes sight unseen to knowing how big it was. I knew what Jim had said, but I didn’t know how much of it was done. I didn’t know that we had two hundred pages out of two thousand. There was no way for me to know how much would need to be done. So yeah, it’s been a big long deviation, but not a distraction, because I think my writing has grown by leaps and bounds. It’s kind of like I had to go pump iron, because writing in the Wheel of Time has been much harder than writing on anything else I’ve done, and I have been forced to grow, and you can see my being forced to grow between the books in the Wheel of Time books. I think my writing is way better in Towers of Midnight than it was in The Gathering Storm, particularly in some of the ways that that Jim was strong. And so, I think that's helped me. It’s certainly not an experience that I would trade for anything. I got to read the ending in 2007, so there’s that. (laughter) But yeah, it’s been a wonderful experience, but boy, it’s been a big, big, big deviation. It’s not where I thought my career would go at all.

Joe O'Hara

Was it daunting seeing just that small amount of work that was taken care of before you stepped on?

Brandon Sanderson

Well, it’s daunting in two ways: First, I got that. It was really nice to have the ending. Like, having the prologue and the ending basically done—those were the two things that he did the most work on—meant that I had the bookends, which is how I build an outline anyway. I know where I start, I know my ending, and I build an outline out of that. But at the same time, there's three million words of notes about the series, which is daunting in another way. Yes, there’s two hundred pages of work done on the book, and then there’s this stack over here of all these other notes that include all of these things that are just mind-boggling, the stuff that’s in there. We released a few of them last year for you guys. Was it last year that we released the notes?

Jennifer Liang

Yeah, we got the page on Cadsuane and…

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the page on Cadsuane and stuff like that. You just see all of weird things that he had in his notes. I have all the same sort of weird stuff in my notes about like Stormlight and stuff, but it’s just fun to see. You go pore through these notes...he has the most random stuff. Lists of trees, lists of people, lists of this, and just millions and millions and words of this stuff, more than I can keep track of at all. It requires Maria and Alan to keep track of all this stuff. So it was also daunting in that, yes there are two hundred pages written, which actually nice, because as I’ve said before, if the book had been 80% of the way done, they wouldn’t have needed to hire me, they wouldn’t have needed to bring me in. When a book is 80% of the way done, that’s when you get a ghostwriter, or Harriet just does it herself. She really could have done it in-house herself and finished that and said “Look, here we’re going to do a few patches and stuff, but the book is mostly done.”

And so, getting there and saying “Hey, I actually get to do something with this, I have an opportunity to add the scenes that I’ve been wanting as a fan for years and years, so I get a chance to actually write these characters, rather than coming in and just patching some holes,” was very thrilling for me at the same time. You know, I worried that I would get there and it would just be patching holes—“Write these five scenes,” or something like that—and that would have meant I wouldn’t have really had a part in it. Granted, that would have been better, because it would have meant there was more Jim in it, and it would have made a better book, but at the same time, when I got to see those two hundred pages, I was saddened but excited at the same time.

Question

When you're...you know, speaking with regards to all three books that you wrote, if there's an issue where you think a character or a plot should go one way, and Harriet or any of the others thinks it should go another way, how does that work?

Brandon Sanderson

Harriet wins. Harriet always wins. Usually what happens is that there'll be...if Harriet says something, we just do it. The only time when there's questioning is when I disagree with Maria or Alan, and we both kind of make our arguments. We do these in-line edits with track changes in Microsoft Word; we'll have whole conversations there, where I'll say "This is why I think this character would do what they're doing," and Maria would come in and say, "This is why I think you're wrong and they wouldn't do this," and we'll have big discussions, and Harriet'll make the call, and then I'll do it as Harriet says, 'cause Harriet knows the characters better than anyone.

And so there are times when I've been overruled—it happens on every book—and there are times where Harriet said, "No, I think Brandon's right," and Maria and Alan—her superfans—disagree, but the way that fandom works, we all disagree on things. You'll find this, and I disagree with some people on how character interpretations will happen, and things like that. Some people, for instance, don't think my Talmanes is true to Jim's Talmanes. Things like that. That's the sort of thing we're arguing over. It's very rarely over main characters, but it's like, "Is Talmanes acting like Talmanes would?" And I read the character one way, and some people read the character another way, and I just have to go with my interpretation, and if Harriet says, "No, this isn't right," I revise it. If Harriet says, "No, this feels right to me," then we just go with it.

Question

Was there ever a case where you and Maria and Alan had a difference of opinion and Harriet had a completely different take?

Brandon Sanderson

That all four of us had a different take? Yeah, that's happened; that's very rare but it has happened. We're trying to piece together something that's...there's always this consideration of "What would Jim do?" But there's also a consideration of Brandon as author, not knowing what Jim would do, what does Brandon think needs to happen narratively? And there are some things where I, reading the books as an author, say "This is where he was going." "No, he didn't say it in the notes." "No, it's nowhere in there; he doesn't make mention of it." "This is where he was going; my understanding of story structure, plotting and things, and I can say, you know, as sure as I can say anything, that this is what he was going to do." And, you know, sometimes Maria and Alan, they look at the notes and say, "No, that's not at all what he was going to do; look what the notes say." And I say, "No, that's not what they're saying," and we have arguments about that too.

There's lots of discussing going on. We're all very passionate about the Wheel of Time. It'd be like getting Jenn and Jason from Dragonmount and Matt from Theoryland together and hashing out what they think about where Demandred is, or something like that. There are gonna be lots of passionate discussions. I think, at the end of the day, that makes the book better, and the fact that we have kind of...Harriet tends to just...if she has a feeling, she lets us argue about it, and then she says, like...you know, 'cause she's the one that would sit at dinner and discuss the characters with Jim. None of us did that, and she did that for twenty years, so...yeah.

Phillip

One of the things that...okay, blasphemy: I've only read through the series once.

Jennifer Liang

At least you've read through it once...Jimmy.

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, Jimmy!

Phillip

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?

Brandon Sanderson

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)

Jennifer Liang

"Good thing that was three months ago; I'm better now!"

Brandon Sanderson

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.

Jennifer Liang

"Three months earlier..."

Brandon Sanderson

Yes. "Three months ago..."

Jennifer Liang

"...back when dinosaurs ruled the earth..."

Brandon Sanderson

Mmhmm.

Jennifer Liang

One of the things that I always like to close Wheel of Time panels with when I'm at conventions that I don't run is talking about the long-term legacy of the Wheel of Time. One of the things that pops up a lot is, Robert Jordan never won a Hugo award. He never won a Nebula, he never won a Locus...any of these major, major awards, he never won; he was only nominated once for Lord of Chaos, had a nomination for a Locus award. We have one last chance to correct this, which is with the publication of A Memory of Light. When that book comes out, not only is that book eligible for the Hugo for that year, but there's a quirk in the Hugo voting rules that if a serialized work, no individual portion has ever been nominated for a Hugo as a standalone, then when it becomes complete, the whole thing becomes eligible as one work, and so by virtue of the fact that Robert Jordan was never nominated for a Hugo during his lifetime, the entire Wheel of Time series becomes eligible for Best Novel at its publication. It would be the biggest "novel" ever nominated for a Hugo, but it's certainly possible to do so. Because of the way the publication works—it's going to be published at the very beginning of 2013, which means it's eligible in the 2014 cycle for Hugos—and I just like to put that out there for people. You know, I don't like to tell people how to vote on the Hugos, 'cause that's something that it's important for you to judge for yourself, what you think is the best novel...um....but really. (laughter)

Brandon Sanderson

She just wants you to be aware that the entire series is eligible.

Jennifer Liang

Yeah, it becomes eligible as Best Novel, and when you think of the impact of the Wheel of Time on fantasy writers over the last twenty years, on fantasy publication...I mean, seriously, do you think they would have let George R. R. Martin publish his books the way that he wants to publish them if they didn't already have some long-running series out there that they could point to and be like, "Look, people will follow it through multiple books, through long periods of waits...you know, people will follow this." Jordan really paved the way for a lot of what we take for granted in fantasy fiction now. I think that's one of the reasons why he gets a lot of flak these days, because it's been going on for so long that the things that were very innovative twenty years ago that the Wheel of Time does are not so innovative anymore, because now everybody does them, because Jim showed us how to do them. And I just feel like it's important to acknowledge that in some way, and so you'll be seeing a lot on Dragonmount about the Hugo Awards over the next couple of years to remind people that this is coming up, and if any of you guys are Hugo voters, keep that in mind. If you would like to be a Hugo voter, you just have to be a member of that year's WorldCon, which will likely be in London that year, so I don't expect you guys to go to London, but you can buy a supporting membership for about $50 usually, and that gives you voting rights to the convention, without attending.

Brandon Sanderson

The nice thing about a supporting membership to the Hugos, they put together a voter packet nowadays which includes electronic copies of all the nominated works, so for usually about fifty bucks, you get five or six novels, five or six novellas, five or six novelettes, and five or six short stories, all Hugo-worthy, for you to read. I do it every year even if I don't go now because of that, and you get to read the whole thing. And if you're gonna vote, really you should be reading widely and voting in multiple categories, and things like that, would be my suggestion.

Question

I was wondering if Cat Crosses the Courtyard or Boar Rushes Down the Mountain or that kind of sword form phrasing or whatever is in A Memory of Light...

Brandon Sanderson

They appear...in fact, Boar Rushes Down the Mountain is in there for sure, and others are [as well].
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:23 PM
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Great interview
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:44 PM
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You just like it because you got name-dropped.
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Old 08-21-2012, 03:26 AM
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I added a bunch of links when I put this in the database.
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Old 08-21-2012, 06:23 AM
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Ha ha - I was thinking the same thing about you, and Tam, and Jimmy etc. ...LOL.

It really was a great interview though! I don't have twitter, so I certainly appreciated the breakdown of what was there when he took the project on, and what wasn't. Also, super nice to have firm confirmation that he'll be at JordanCon in April!

ETA - I forgot to say thanks for posting this!!
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:04 AM
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That was an awesome interview, thank you for compiling and adding it to the database!!
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:20 AM
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I wish someone would ask about the DAMN NOTES and if there is any plan (ever?) to release those????? 3 million words? HELLO!!!!! Maybe we can make a Theoryland pot o' gold and beg them to give them to us??? I would hope much of the detail will be in Harriet's encyclopedia, but I have always had the impression those are two very separate things.

And...spoiler for those who didn't read ALL of that interview...
Spoiler:
I guess
Perrin makes it to the end of the book alive
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terez View Post
You just like it because you got name-dropped.
I also like it because I know all the people in the interview and it seems like a very fun conversation with a couple of interesting things in it. (tour and jcon)
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SauceyBlueConfetti View Post
I wish someone would ask about the DAMN NOTES and if there is any plan (ever?) to release those????? 3 million words? HELLO!!!!!
He's been asked about it several times. All in the database. Harriet doesn't want to release the notes because RJ didn't like other people looking at his unfinished material. We got a bit of it last year for wotgh, and much of it will go into the Encyclopedia, and there's a small chance Brandon might do some annotations for WoT. (But if he does, it will likely be in published form rather than on his website like he does for his other books.)
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