Atlanta signing 5 December 2000 - report by Br00seEdit

I just got home from the Atlanta signing. I had planed to ask several questions, but I mostly wimped out.

I borrowed a tape recorder from a friend of mine who is a reporter. I figured he would have a good one. However, I think I now understand why people get misquoted so often. Based on a sample playback, I don't expect to get much out of it.

Due to some poor instructions from Map Quest, and my own inability to drive and navigate, I arrived at the signing 30 minutes late (at 7:30) even though I left it time to get there about 45 minutes early. I hate Atlanta traffic. If he made any opening remarks, I missed them. I stood around and listened to other peoples questions and comments with my tape recorder in hand while I made my buddy go wait in line for the signing.

While I heard very little that was new, there were a few tid bits.

Someone asked if a hero of the Wheel that had already been spun out could still be seen in T'A'R. He said point blank "No". I'm hoping the person who posed that question will also post about it, in case I got something wrong.

Someone asked about the populations of the major cities. After a little clarifications, he basically said that Tar Valon has a population of about 700,000 and the several of the other cities have around 500,000. He gave a number for the total population of Andor, but I'm not sure of the number, and hope that made it to the tape I'm going to analyze tomorrow.

Someone came through and said "I think Isam killed Asmodean." He just replied, "You do." With a very slight grin on his face.

Someone asked if Mordin is Ba'alzamon. Jordan laughed and almost fell out of his chair. The then told her to RAFO, and not what was forthcoming, but what was already written. He seemed to really enjoy answering that question. I wonder if there are two types of RAFO answers.

When asked about the total number of books, he gave the stock answer of at least 3 more books. When I suggested that 13 was a nice symmetrical number, he looked up at the ceiling and made a comment that he hope it didn't take that long. I hope I can find that on the tape.

I asked him if there was going to be any more short fiction, and he seemed to really think about it and said he didn't know.

We asked who he voted for in the election, he said that it was his business. He went on to say that he obtained his absentee ballot and that he did vote.

For some reason Tor's website doesn't have the complete signing schedule listed. He told me he was going to be in Columbia, SC next and then Charleston SC at the Books-a-million. He seemed concerned when I told him that the Tor website didn't list anything past today. He said that they had the complete schedule and that it should be posted. IIRC Columbia is on the 7th and Charleston is on the 9th, I don't know any more about that. I'll try to find out because I may go to another one and see if I can remember to ask the questions I missed last time.

The crowd finally subsided around 8:30 and he started signing store copies. I went out to my car to get the questions that I carelessly left out there and to step next door to use the restroom. When I came back, he was gone. I was so bummed out. I had just gotten comfortable asking him questions. When I was ready to ask the BIG ones, he was gone.

Like I said, I was counting on my tape recorder to do my note taking for me, but based on a sample playback, I don't think I'm going to much from it.

Br00se Br00se (at) br00se .com

This is the long version of a post I made last week. Very little, if anything is new, but I wanted to post it all for the sake of being complete.

Robert Jordan Books signing for Winter's Heart
December 5, 2000. - Atlanta, GA. - Chapter 11 bookstore.

The signing started at 7:00pm. I was late however, arriving around 7:30. I took several pictures and brought along a borrowed tape recorder. It didn't pick up everything that was said, but after running the tape through the EQ, I got a good bit from it. I usually had a harder time getting the questions since those asking the questions had their backs to me. Here is what I was able to collect; much of this has been reported on a number of times.

The first question I heard was concerning his favorite character. His reply was whomever he was writing at the time. He then went on to say that his wife could guess whom he had been writing just by looking at him.

I missed the next question, but the answer was: "Don't name your son Chad."

The next question was concerning other projects he was working on. His reply was that he wasn't working on any other projects, and that he can only work on one project at a time. When he was working on the Guide and New Spring, he had to stop working on the novel during that time.

I missed the next question, but it was something about his computer use. He said that whenever he was at his computer, he was writing. Apart from checking his E-mail and updating his virus definitions files, about all he did on his computer was write.

Someone asked what year he graduated from the Citadel. His answer was 1974. The follow up was a comment about the school turning out some great writers. He said that it was not so much the school as the person.

The next question dealt with the sizes of the countries and cities. The larger cities had between 300k and 600K. Tar Valon has 700K
people. Andor has a population of 10 million.
The next question was about the heights and weights of the three amigos. I had seen the heights reported before, but not the weights. This might actually be new info. Rand is 6' 5" to 6' 6" and 235lbs Perrin is 6' 1½" and 235-245lbs Mat is 6' and 180lbs

Q: Would a hero tied to the wheel be seen in T'A'R after he'd been born.
A: No.

The next question dealt with him designing cultures. He gave a familiar answer about how he started by saying if one thing is true about the people, he would ask what three other things must be true. He then repeats this until he is satisfied that he has enough to work with. He used the Aiel as an example, starting with them living in a dry wasteland, what else must be true.

The next lady that came through said, "I think Isam killed Asmodean." He smiled as he signed her book and said, "You do?" And he left it at that. For some reason I got the idea he was thinking, "Of course he did." But that was just my mind reading powers at work.

The next question prompted him to discuss how he drew from many different cultures and mythologies for his inspiration. This has all been reported on before.

The next person asked about the WOT computer action game. He said that the game designers did a fine job with it, but didn't get everything he wanted in there. This is mostly because of the limitations of the Unreal engine. His role in creating it was pretty limited because he was writing a book at the time.

Something came up about Wizards of the Coast. He said that they were working on an online WOT game. If he gave more details, I missed them.

Some one asked him if he was going to Dragon Con in Atlanta. He said that he had been told that he received an invitation. He didn't say if he would go or not.

The next question was about his favorite authors, he rattled off a long list, most of which have already been listed elsewhere. If anyone really wants to know, I'll go through the tape again and see what I can recover.

At this point he paused and said that he was glad that no women had asked a question that make him blush yet. Usually at signings this size some woman will.

Someone asked about the cover art. He described the process as working something like this: He writes a description of what he wants
for the artist. The artist then makes a sketch of how it will look. RJ then makes comments and corrections and sends that back. He doesn't see it again until it is finished and ready for publication.

Someone asked about prequels or books from the AOL. He said that were would be no prequels.

Someone asked another culture development question, and got a shorter version of the same answer as before.

Someone asked him whom he favored in the election. He said that it was his private business. He added that he did get an absentee ballot and that he did vote.

Then he told the story about being in England and a woman brought an 18-month-old baby through a signing line. She wanted the book personalized to the child - Robert Jordan Smith. He said that he waited till after the signing to tell his wife about it. When she heard she asked how old the child was. Upon hearing 18 months, she said that it was OK because she knew where he was 27 months before.

The next lady asked some question about one of Min's viewing of Rand with three women. She was confused because Min didn't recognize someone in the viewing that she should have known. JR had to repeat 3 or 4 times that the viewing wasn't clear at the time. He seemed to be stressing that Min's inability to recognize the person didn't mean anything important. Her viewings don't always tell everything. This is only important because it means that you can't use anything that was missing from Min's viewings as proof of anything.

After some more stuff I didn't hear very clearly, he told his "I could have writing the last chapter 15 years ago" story.

The next person asked if he typed, to which Jordan replied, "If I wrote it longhand it would take 8 years between books."

Several people had photo's made with Jordan, he kept looking back to make sure no one was putting up bunny ears. He said that he uses his cane to make sure the culprits don't get away because the cane adds 3 feet to his reach.

The next question was by Daniel Rouk I believe, correct me if I'm wrong. I've posted this part before, but included it for completeness.

Q: "How do you keep track of all the information, do you have, like, a database?"
A: "I have a database. Yes. I have a database, in a way a rather rudimentary one. It's is simply a huge collection of files organized on characters, on cultures, um (pause) organizations, anything that I think I might need to know about the world. But to tell you the truth, I usually go into those files to add in new things that I've come up with. It's not that often that I go in there to check on things."
Q: "Do you keep a list of all your different threads so you don't have a whole bunch of hanging....."
A: No, no, no, no, no, no that's all in my head. It doesn't exist anywhere except in my head."
Q: Thanks.

When asked about the total number of books, he gave the stock answer of at least 3 more books. When I suggested that 13 is a nice symmetrical number, he looked up at the ceiling and said "Don't listen to this man." I can only assume by his reaction that he took my comment to mean 13 additional books, instead of 13 total books.

I then asked him if there was going to be any more short fiction, he said, "I don't know. Maybe." He went on to explain about how the day that Bob Silverberg called him about Legends, he had been going through some notes about Lan and Moiraine's meeting. Lucky for us. He had to stop work on the novel to write the short story.

The next person also asked about the cover art, and he gave a shorter version of the first answer.

Some one asked about the first printing hardbacks of TEOTW and how to identify them. He went on to say that the rumor that some of the early trade paperbacks were re-bound as hardbacks was an urban legend. He said that he checked.

The next question was about the tying up of all threads, to which he said it was not going to happen. He then told how he didn't like it when in most books all the sub plots are tied up and that you could put the world in a bell jar and put it on a shelf. He wants his reads to imagine his world still living after the series is finished. He said that he was going to set a hook at the end of the last book and walk away.

He again stated that he only worked on one book at a time.

He explained that the host bookstore sets the rules for the signing and he follows the rules. He told a story of when he was doing a signing where they allowed only 2 items per trip through the line, after that you had to get back to the end. When the last fellow came to the table and had 4 books. Jordan signed 2 and said that he couldn't sign the other 2 until he went to the back of the line. The guy said, "But, I'm the last one." Jordan said, "I don't make the rules I just follow them." The guy stood then for a second then walked in a circle and came back to the table where Jordan promptly signed his other 2 books.

He then told a story about some neighbors of his which I didn't transcribe. It had something to do with his soul and the number of times he's leased it out.

The next kid asked about the color of the glow of saidar. There was apparently a bet riding on the answer. The answer is white. The kid was very distraught with the answer. Jordan then asked the kid if he was going go back and lie about the answer. He said, "It that's OK". Jordan made some quips about honesty as the kid left the store. It was pretty funny.

Another question followed about the number of books. Same answer.

He said that he writes about 8 hours a day 6 days a week when he is not on tour. He said something about when he was fishing, unless he was fly-fishing or was on the boat really having to work at it, he felt like he should be home writing.

He then answered a question about living in Charleston; about how it was his favorite place to live out of the half dozen or so cities he felt that he would like to live in.

He said that for this book it took 2 months from the time he handed in the final manuscript until he went on tour.

The signing was finished by the point with only a few people wondering in late to get some signed. He signed some store stock copies, and chatted a little bit more. He told a few more stories from other signings. He explained that there was overlapping periods from the last 2 books and would be for the next one as well. When he said something about the next two signing dates in Columbia SC and in Charleston SC, I told him that the Tor website didn't have them listed. He seemed a little concerned about that. He told the story about getting his hat in Montana. And about how the current one was a replacement for one that walked away from for a signing.

By now I had worked up enough courage to actually ask him some questions. I went out the car to get my note pad and to step to the Subway Deli a few doors down to use the restroom. When I returned, he was gone.

Br00se Br00se (at) br00se .com

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