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Hello, the folks of AOL! I'm Jim JMF, your host for this evening's festivities. Everybody, let's give a big welcome to Robert Jordan! Welcome to AOL Live!
- Hi guys!! Thanks for having me
Robert, are you ready for some questions from the audience?
- Yes I am!
I heard the name of book 8 in the WOT series is "The Tower of Ravens." Is there any truth to that?
- There is no title for Book 8. Not yet. My working title is "Book 8" and will probably remain that until I am, oh, 2/3 of the way through the book.
I heard that some of your stuff is being republished. Fallon books, right?
- That's correct. They are historical novels and I think they will appeal both to buffs of history novels, "The American Revolution," "The War Against the Tripoli Pirates," and also readers of what I have heard called "sober romances". The people are certainly full-blooded, shall we say, and there are a number of romances in there.
About those historical novels, where do you get the information for those? Personal research?
- Yes, and a personal interest in history.
You are truly the master of fantasy Master Jordan. Tolkein is wonderful, but I'm afraid you eclipse him. Although, you do have fifty years of experience on him.
- That sounds like the finest kind of butter to me and if you don't mind, I'll keep one hand on my wallet.
When is Book 8 going to come out?
- Probably in January or February of 1998. I am scheduled to hand it to the publisher in November of 1997. I have slowed down a little bit in order to stay alive to the end of the series. My wife, my publisher and some other people convinced me that I was killing myself maintaining my old work schedule.
How do you feel about women being admitted to the Citadel?
- In the first place, I do wish that the school had been able to remain all male, but the fact is, women are in the Citadel, and as far as I'm concerned, it's time to get on with the business at hand and stop grousing about what's past.
In your future WOT books will we start to see things from the Seanchan perspective?
- It's quite possible, but the only real answer I can give is RAFO.
Any suggestions for authors/books to keep us busy while we wait for Book 8?
- Yes. Terry Pratchett, Ray Feist, C.S. Freidman, Barry Hughart, Robert Holdstock, Guy Gabriel Kay, and of course there's George R. R. Martin's new book. You ought to go back and read anything by John M. Ford that you can get your hands on.
To clarify a point made earlier, what is the RAFO reference to?
- It's an acronym that some people who have been on the net have tossed at me in face to face meetings and I have tossed back at others and RAFO means READ AND FIND OUT.
How do you come up with all the details in your stories, Tel'aran'rhiod, the details of the kingdoms, and the personal histories and all that?
- A lot of hard work.
How long did it take you to plan the Wheel of Time world?
- A very long time. Almost ten years of thinking about it before I began writing. And then four years to write The Eye of the World. Then roughly 14 months each for the next five books, and about 20 or 21 months for A Crown of Swords. You see, I have the world planned out, but quite often details are a work in progress.
Considering that schedule, do you spend every waking minute on your books or do you do other things in between that prepare you to write?
- I do other things. I fish, although not nearly as often as I should, just for relaxation purposes, and of course I read. Actually, I have to read. If I don't read someone else before going to bed, I will lie there awake all night thinking about my own work and what I want to do next.
Any chance of seeing the "Wheel of Time" in other media (television, CD-ROM's, etc.)?
- I don't know about TV certainly, but a company called Legend Entertainment is working on a "Wheel of Time" role playing game that will have both strategic and tactical levels and be able to be played against your own computer or on the Web against other players. I think it should be interesting. I gave them a number of requirements which all boil down in a way to ... it should be impossible to play the same game twice.
Any plans for a book of artwork that depicts your vision of the world in your books?
- Yes, in a way. Next October, there will be "An Illustrated Guide to the World of The Wheel of Time". Released by Tor Books. It will have a great deal of information about the back history of the stories and the world. And also, some 80 or 90 full color illustrations including maps of the entire world of the Seanchan Empire, maps of the nations of the Compact of the Ten Nations, and the nations as they existed at the time. As well as pictures of a number of the individuals from the books. In some cases those pictures look exactly as I envision the person. In other cases, the artist and I just couldn't come to a full agreement on what I was trying to describe. All in all, I am very satisfied with the pictures, though.
- There will also be about 120-130,000 words of text telling about things like how the White Tower was founded and why the White Tower looks monolithic from the outside and so very fractured from the inside. There will be a good deal of the history of people like Artur Hawkwing and the Amyrlins for the last thousand years or so.
That's way cool information there... Here's our question...
Is Book 8 the end? If not, is there a plan for when the end will be?
- Book 8 is not the end. There will be at least 3 more books and I am sorry for that. I have known what the last scene of the last book would be for quite a long time, 10 or 12 years at least. I just want to get to it without speeding up my pace.
How much did your military experience influence your writing?
- Some, I suppose, but I don't know that it had any great influence.
Did you base any of the WOT characters on real life friends, or acquaintances?
- No, with one exception. All of the major female characters have some part of my wife in them.
How much did Tolkein, or even Eddings' Belgariad chronicles influence the WOT series?
- Eddings certainly not at all, and as for Tolkein, only to the degree that (1) he showed that it was possible to write a very large series of books, a very large story, and (2) the fact that I purposely did the first, oh, perhaps 80 pages of The Eye of the World as an homage to Tolkein in a way, that it was set in the same sort of pastoral country that Tolkein wrote about.
Which of the first seven books is your favorite?
- My favorite book is always the book I'm working on at the moment.
Just curious, but what culture(s) were the Seanchan based on?
- A good deal of Japan, of the Shogunites, Imperial China, and in general a good many rigid hierarchal stratified societies. Too many to list really, I suppose.
Speaking of favorites, do you have a favorite character perhaps?
- I'm afraid that my favorite character also happens to be whoever I'm writing at the moment
Does RAFO mean you don't know how it will turn out, or do you want to keep us in suspense?
- I want to keep you in suspense. If I give away all of the secrets, sooner or later you guys are going to start saying "Well I know all of this stuff. He's really gotten boring!"
Did you get any inspiration from Arthurian Legend?
- Quite a bit, along with other Celtic myths and Norse myths and African and Middle- Eastern, and Hindu and Chinese and Japanese and Native American and even Australian Aboriginal. Plus some others here and there to tell you the truth.
Did your purposefully use Neo-Pagan and New Age influences to develop the WOT series?
- Not knowingly no. I don't think so.
Would you ever consent to a movie?
- Sure! But who's going to make a movie at 16 or 18 hours per book? If anybody out there actually thinks he can cut one of these books down to a two hour movie, I suspect he's been drinking something funny!
Well, there's always the option of a mini-series.
Why is there such a long delay before characters return to the main story? ie: Lan.
- Not everybody can be center stage front at the same time.
Are you saying all the characters are based on various cultures around the world?
- Bits and pieces sometimes. Not the characters, but the nations are sometimes based on bits and pieces of actual cultures and quite often it has nothing to do with any culture that I am aware of consciously.
Robert, do you see yourself as any of the characters?
- I see myself as whoever I happen to be writing at the moment. Other people have notions... they think I'm this character or that. I'm everybody.
Do you completely control what the characters do, or do they occasionally surprise you with their actions ?
- The characters never surprise me. In terms of the book I am God. A writer who says that the characters take control is doing one of two things... either he or she is telling people what they want to hear because a lot of people seem to want to hear that the characters have taken over... or else, that writer is being exceedingly lazy and not paying attention. The characters NEVER really take over.
Will there be one artist on the book or a multitude?
- If you mean The Guide, it will be one artist all the way through, a man named Todd Hamilton.
Do you ever get tired of people turning every typo in your books into another plot line?
- No, I just wish I could stop there from being any typos.
Robert, thank you so very much for taking your time to appear on AOL tonight. Any final comments for your audience?
- Yes guys. Sorry if I was illiterate anywhere. I think I was in a few places. I am tired tonight. Good night everybody.
And a special thanks to the audience for joining us. Have a good evening, folks. Until next time, AOL!