Barnes and Noble Chat November 11, 2000
Note that these questions were copied and pasted here. Questions appear in REVERSE order of which they were asked! So start from the bottom and read UP. (Sorry for the trouble!)
RJ: Thanks for coming tonight, guys. And thanks for reading me!
Jacob from California: First off, major compliments for sharing your beautiful creation with us. Second off, how do you come up with your character's/cities' names? Most of the names do not sound like traditional fantasy names, did you do this conciousl yin order to create a work that was not like the 'norm'?
RJ: Yes. I didn't want to simply copy what's gone before. There are some things that are reminiscent, certainly, and I can't say that every name is unlike what might be called "traditional fantasy names," but I definitely wanted names that were different.
Dave from Wautoma, WI: Thanks for such a terrific series! I can't begin to tell you how many hours of entertainment it's provided. I was just wondering . . . provided that you get the time once in awhile, do you tend to read books inside the fantasy genre or outside or it?
RJ: I read more outside of the fantasy genre than inside, but I certainly do read fantasy.
Juris Koren from Sigil: When you started writing WoT--or even after the first couple of books were published--did you ever expect the public reaction that WoT has received? All the popularity and fanfare and such? Or were you just sort-of writing for you and if it was well-received, fine; if not, fine?
RJ: I was writing for myself. I never expected any of this.
David from Austin: When will the LAND OF MADMEN (as shown in the Guide) come into play, and are you considering ever making a second edition of the Guide?
RJ: As for when or if it will come into play, read and find out. As for another edition of the guide, I would like to do a concordance or encyclopedia when the cycle is finished, but I have no plans before that.
Laure from Montreal,QC: You said earlier that Mat would get 'stuck' with someone and you mentioned Pink Ribbons. Eighteen century condoms were attached with such ribbons...is it linked?
John Miller from Virginia: First off thanks for joining us on the chat. To settle a dispute on our mailing list I would like to know if the gholam works the same way as Mat's medallion? Can it be killed by lightning or any such thing?
RJ: Read and find out. The principle is the same, but it doesn't work in the same way as Mat's medallion.
Meg Young from Florida: In a previous question you stated that it took you so long to write The Eye of the World because you realized a number of things you hadn't yet researched. What sort of things were these, and how did you survive the more tedious aspects of world-building (ie, lists of government official names, lists of cities and their major imports and exports, etc)?
RJ: Well, the tedious bits were quite easy, and it wasn't so much a matter of research I hadn't done as things that needed to be worked out -- which I thought could wait until later because they were not going to come into the books until later. But I realized once I began writing that I had to realize how those things worked and fit together NOW, because that would affect how things happened in that first book.
Bela the Horse from Tel'aran'rhiod: What was the "extra bit" in Path of Daggers? Was it the kiss or the bonding? Please help settle this long-standing dispute.
RJ: The kiss is necessary, because that's how they learned to do it, because that's how the fellow that developed it did it. The extra bit is something in the bonding, and you'll find out what in Winter's Heart. You should have gotten a clue, I think, in the scene where the bonding took place.
Clayton from Hutchinson: First, I thoroughly enjoy the wheel of time series. Is there an actaul form of martial arts that inspired the "sword forms" and are the forms you mention in the books part of this art or are they you own creation.
RJ: The sword forms described in the book are my own creation, but they are based in part on the Japanese art of the sword, and also on fencing as it developed, when it was well on its way to becoming a martial art as we define them today (when it was developing in the Renaissance).
J. KING from HAZARD KY: I thought I had heard about a story dealing with Moraine and Siuan Sanche when they were first raised to full sister and the beginning of their search for the Dragon Reborn. Is it out there?
RJ: It's called New Spring, and it's in a collection called LEGENDS put together by Robert Silverburg.
Kevin from Dallas, Tx: Just want to say I really love the books. I am currently rereading them before I read WH. I hope I dont break down and read WH before I have reread the whole series. It always keeps the sub plots in mind. Now the question. Do you have anybody that reads the book that you are currently working on to make sure that the main plots and subplots are intack and that things have not been left out or added to soon?
RJ: That's me!
Jennifer from Barnes & Noble.com: On behalf of a promotion that Barnes & Noble.com is conducting, I'd like to ask: what are your favorite books, and why?
RJ: I can't give favorite books, but I can give my favorite authors: John D. McDonal, Jane Austen, Robert Heinlein, Louis L'Amour, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain.
Eric from Cleveland: Mr. Jordan, Do you have to reread your books often in order to remind yourself of everything you have done and still need to do, or do you just look back at notes as a basic reminder. Thanks
RJ: Sometimes I have to look back at the books themselves, but primarily that is to make sure that I remember for example, exactly what someone said to someone else, I don't need to remind myself of the story or what has happened. I sometimes do have to check on small details.
Natalie Fylith from Dragonmount: Did you get inspiration for Be'lal's name from Paradise Lost? (ie, the fallen angel Belial)
RJ: Among other places, yes.
Eric from Nashville: Was the storyline for "New Spring" one that was created at the same time as the rest of the WoT plot, or did you come up with it specifically for the Legends anthology?
RJ: The basis was notes that I had made for myself on backstory, things that I had never intended to put into the books themselves, but that I needed to know to write the books: such as where did Moridian [Moiraine] and Lan meet, and where did they come from.
Doug Carlson from Urbana, IL: Is there any way to escape a mindtrap other than death?
RJ: To be released, you can be released from it.
Holly from Clearwater: Do you already know the fates of all the primary characters or are they still changeable?
RJ: I know the fates of all of the primary characters.
Rob Hill from Cardiff, Wales, U.K.: Who would win in a sword fight between lan and galad? My moneys on lan.
RJ: (laughs) Unless you can find someone else to bet with, use your money to buy yourself some beer.
David Burke from Northeastern University: Thank you so much Mr. Jordan for writing this series. It has entertained me for a very long time. My question is; If you were to be a member of a group or society represented in your books, which would it be? I think that I would like to be an Ogier because of their simple and peaceful way of life.
RJ: I don't know that I would particularly like to be a part of any of the societies or organizations or groups that I have described. I suppose if I had to choose, it would be a tossup between being an Ossuman [Asha'man] and being a Warder.
Baroc from Dragonmount: Do you have any special fan activities planned for DragonCon next year? Thank you.
RJ: No, to the best of my knowledge, I have not agreed to be at DragonCon next year! I have to point out that in the last few years, there seems to be a rash of people convincing world fantasy convention, world science fiction convention, that they are ME, and they have arranged panels that I knew nothing about until I received a schedule from the convention saying that these were the panels I was on.
Emily from San Jose: If you could choose any one element from your series to bring into the 'real world' what would it be? Use of the One Power? Tel'aran'rhiod? Something else?
RJ: I don't think that I would bring anything from my world into the real world. They're all very wonderful things, I believe, but taken all in all, they make the world much too interesting for comfort. And the world we live in is awfully darned interesting, and sometimes awfully uncomfortable, as it is.
Missy from Oregon: Do the portrayals of the people on the covers, match what you think they look like?
RJ: Yes and no. It's very hard to get an artist to portray someone just as you see them. If I were an artist, perhaps the covers would show the people EXACTLY as I see them. But since I'm not, we have to make do with me giving descriptions to the artist.
Jiri Kristek from The Czech Rep.: Mr. Jordan How many hours per day do you aproxometly spend writeing, and do you listen to music meanwhile or do you prefere the silence?
RJ: I usually write to classical music of various kinds, and occasionally Chinese or Japanese music. I like to listen to rock and to jazz, but I can't write to them. As for the number of hours, I try to do at least 8 hours a day, six or seven days a week. When the schedule gets very hectic, that can grow to twelve hours a day 7 days a week, and no time off.
Moderator: Thanks for all the great questions for Robert Jordan! By the way, a Barnes & Noble.com editor is typing for Mr. Jordan this evening. Mr. Jordan is dictating his responses to your questions over the phone. Enjoy the rest of the chat.
Peter Stogios from Toronto, Canada: Mr. Jordan, I loved your flashbacks to the Age of Legends in Book Four. I'm fascinated by how so many characters regard this Age as an incredible time when Aes Sedai could accomplish anything. Will we learn anything else about the Age of Legends in your upcoming books?
RJ: As far as what you'll find out about them, read and find out. I myself see the Age of Legends as a time that was vey technological, with a technology based on the one power. And thus, a place where things happened every day that would be considered miraculous to the people of the present time of the books. If you took someone from 500 years ago into the average house in the United States, they would think that what they were seeing had to be the product of magic, and they would believe that our world was an incredible time of wonder. They probably wouldn't see any of the warts that we see. And in the books this has happened in reverse, because the grand time is in the past.
Travis (Mangneth) from North Texas: Will Sharina play a more prominent role in WH? How big of a role will she play in books to come? Will we learn more about her, like her past, thoughts, feelings. etc?
RJ: We'll certainly see her again -- for the rest, read and find out. If I tell you everything that's coming, and everything that isn't coming, you're going to lose interest, aren't you?
Yanmin from Singapore: What inspired the Forsaken?
RJ: A great many things -- but in large part, people who are willing to do anything at all for their personal aggrandizement.
William Barbarow from California: Hi, Mr, Jordan, I have been an avid reader of your books since I first read The Eye of the World about a year ago. I was wondering how did you choose the colors for the ajahs, ie. why are some colors such as orange left out and gray is in. Thanx for answering my question.
RJ: I stuck with what you might call basic colors, and orange is not a basic color.
Rick from Medford, NY: Mr. Jordan, does it ever frighten you that people ask you the most detailed questions about your series, kind of like Star Trek fanatics do with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy?
RJ: Last: Hiding there would be a good idea, I think. This: No, that doesn't worry me or frighten me. The only times I get worried are when people seem to believe that I am some sort of guru, and I'm not -- I'm a storyteller. I write books, that's it. I tell stories.
Ryan Foley from Lawrence, Mass.: If you were going to be stranded on the Island of Madmen and could only take one book with you, what book would it be?
RJ: I think a book on camouflage.
Ethan Hayes from Colorado Springs, CO: First off, I would like to compliment you on having such a wonderful series. I have one question for you, however, about being a writer. How is it that you made yourself transition from planning the series and what was going to happen in the series and building the history, etc; into the actual creation of the first novel? How did you know when to stop planning and to start writing?
RJ: Well, in this particular instance, I simply reached a point where I thought I was ready to start, and in some ways I turned out to be wrong! That's why it took 4 years to write TEOTW, I realized that there were a number of things I had to work out very far in advance from what I believed.
Melissa from Oregon: You've thought out your characters so clearly and their personalities are so complex. How hard was it to do this? Did it take a lot of planning ahead or did it just come naturally as you progressed into the writing?
RJ: There was a lot of planning ahead involved with the characters, and a lot of work -- with the women characters in particular, to try to make them seem like women instead of women written by a man.
Dustin from Manhattan, Kansas: Of all the books you have written for the WoT series, which is your favorite and why? Thank You
RJ: My favorite book is always the book I am working on at present.
Pablo from Illian, NY: Mr. Jordan, of all your characters, which would you most like to see die?
RJ: (laughs) I can't say that I'd like to see any of them die!
Joseph Etcheto from Southbury, CT: Hello again Mr. Jordan. Not that I'm looking forward to the end, in the sense of it being over, but what are your plans, if any, after you have finished this series? Will you continue telling stories about this world, or will you move on to new things?
RJ: I intend to move on to new things. I have been thinking about another fantasy series, another world, another set of cultures, for about, oh, it must be 6 years now it's been percolating around in the back of my head.
Moonhair from Wotmania: Have you ever actually visited a fan-based WoT website? Do you agree with many of the theories you find there?
RJ: I have occasionaly dropped in on some websites. Some of the theories are very good, and some of them are very much wild blue yonder. And no, I won't tell you which ones are which!
Kelly van der Laan from The Netherlands: Man, Im so lucky I couldnt sleep! (Its 1 am here)RJ, I loved Winter's Heart and the especially the last chapter! Could you please put some more of the Forsaken POV's in the next book, most of all Cyndane and Graendal? I love those two!
RJ: Well, it's possible -- but how have you read Winter's Heart already? It doesn't go on sale until tomorrow! If it's been sold anywhere, it's a shock to me!
Jeremy from Long Island NY: For any of the mysteries, i.e. Moridin's identity and Asmodean's death, would you tell us where to look for clues we probably missed? Or just mention some clues that we all probably didn't see?
RJ: (laughs) Well, Moridin's identity is pretty much an open secret -- and esp if you read WH, I think it's increasingly clear who he is, if there were any doubt. As for the other -- read and find out!
Brandon Fincher from Abilene, TX: Mr. Jordan- What rough percentage is devoted to Mat and Perrin in this book? I must admit I was disappointed Mat wasn't in the Path of Daggers more.
RJ: In the Path of Daggers, you have to remember that Mat had a building fall on top of him. I personally don't think that Mat lying around in a bed with bandages and splints is very entertaining, and it certainly wouldn't have done anything to advance the story. Mat does have an encounter with pink ribbons that some of you might find amusing in this book.
Ryan from New Orleans: What is the average term of office for the average Amrlyn, assuming she isn't deposed.
RJ: If you check the list of Amryln in the illustrated guide, which covers about 1000 years prior to the story, you'll find that there's quite a wide variation -- up to 50 or 60 years for some, and for others, perhaps 20. In large part, it depends how old she was when she was chosen Amryln. That is, given that she wasn't deposed.
Henrik from Tampere, Finland: Mr. Jordan, what is your stance on uncommissioned fan illustrations, depicting the world you've created?
RJ: Last: It's a good question, and an important theme -- but read and find out. This: I really don't have a stance. I know a lot of people do fan art of one sort or another. As long as no one is trying to make money on my creations, it's all right with me!
Doug Carlson from Urbana, IL: What would happen if the Dark One was victorious? And why can the Dark One act on the world but it seems the Creator cannot?
RJ: Read and find out.
J. Hurt from Chicago: First off, I absolutely love the WOT series! What I wanted to know was when your originally started writing this series what type of research, if any, did you do to create the world and storyline you have created?
RJ: I started writing the Eye of the World in about 1985, I guess it was. 85 or 86. It took me four years, and I had been thinking about the things that would lead into the world of the wheel of Time about ten years before I started writing ANYTHING.
Davidexx from Philadelphia: First, thanks for such a wonderful series. Your unsurpassed character development, such an important part of fiction writing, makes this series stand head and shoulders above similar-themed works. My question is about balance. Obviously your world is driven by pattern and balance (male and female, light and dark, etc). Why is it that as many of your major and minor characters find their complement (i.e. significant other), Rand has 3, ehh, girlfriends. Is this simply because he's the "big cheese", or does this obvious imbalance represent the Wheel weaving what is necessary for the final resolution of the story?
RJ: Read and find out. Sorry about that!
Pam Korda from Chicago: What exactly is the "hot" ter'angreal played with so enthusiastically by Elayne and when will we see it actually put into use?
RJ: Read and find out, Pam. You're experienced enough at this to know that I wouldn't give that answer, I think!
Dayn S from California: What is going on with the NBC Eye of the World mini-series?
RJ: To the best of my knowledge, nothing whatsoever. I have been told that the people who were key in making the deal in the first place have all left NBC now. So I'm afraid that nothing is going to happen there.
Greg Basore from Oklahoma: If you had to put two books into a time capsule, one by you and one by some one else what would they be?
RJ: Well, I think that I would put The Eye of the World at this point, and someone else -- I think the essays of Montaigne.
E.S. from Denver: How did Kierkegard and Sartre influence your portrayal of Bela and can you discuss how the equus/superequus dichotomy played out in the whole Asmodean murder scene?
RJ: (laughs) No, no, neither Sartre or Kierkegard influenced me in the slightest, nor did they influence the development of Bela. My wife thinks that they did influence the development of Bela, but I don't and I'm the one who did it, so there.
Liandra from The Netherlands: I understand there would be a person in The Eye of the World, but that he was cut out or something. Who was he?
RJ: One of the characters who I have brought in later was a fellow named Daniell in TEOTW, and I brought him out because I realized he didn't have anything to do there. I reintroduced hiim later. At that point, he was simply taking up space.
Jan from Colorado: Mr. Jordan, In The Great Hunt it was mentioned that a Aes Sedai with gray hair was very old indeed. How old does a Aes Sedai typically have to be for her hair to start turning gray?
RJ: It varies. But usually they would expect to have grey hair by oh, 200 years of age. Some grey hair at least. Just like anyone else, some have grey hair at 150, or even 100, but that would be considered prematurely grey for an Aes Sedai.
promethius from melbourne, australia: Mr. Jordan, I love your books. If a person begins to channel at an old age, eg. Sharina, will she begin to physically look younger when she slows, or will she remain the same and pick up from there?
RJ: She remains the same. It's not the same as having been stilled or burnt out. She's going to have a very long life, still, just not as a youthful person.
Mike Y. from Santa Barbara, CA: Were the 9 Rods of Dominion mentioned in the Eye of The World prologue sa'angreal? Do they or will they play any role in the series? Was the sa'angreal used to heal Mat one of these Rods?
RJ: Read and find out.
Richard from Kentucky: In fantasy, the epic battle between good and evil is a physical battle. How do you personally cope with experiencing the world of WOT, and having to face the real world? Also, are you like C.S. Lewis in that you can't believe in the world you created, seeing as you made it. Thank You.
RJ: Well, I suppose I believe in the world I made as much as any writer believes in the world he or she creates -- I can see it, feel it, smell it. But I certainly have no difficulties stepping outside the world in my head into the REAL world. MD Young from Plano, TX: In the chat before PoD, you said that you felt 3 more books were needed to complete the series. Are we down to 2 more books now, or has the series been pushed back to another book?
RJ: It still sits at 3 more books to finish, but I've always said from the time I began using the 3 books that it would be AT LEAST 3 books -- that I'd try to finish in at least 3 books, but I couldn't promise. I know that I couldn't possibly finish in fewer than 3. If I can finish in 3, I will. But that's what I'm hoping for, what I'm trying for. NOT a promise.
Candice from Greenville, North Carolina: Do you ever feel under alot of pressure to finish the books due to their popularity?
RJ: Well, sometimes. But I know where I'm going, I know how I want to finish it, I do not intend to speed up the pace to get there faster. In truth, the greatest pressure to finish it, I think, comes from ME. I won't really have done it until I finish it.
Rune from Dragonmount: Do you have a Languages education? Where did you get the idea for the Old Tongue?
RJ: Well, I got the idea for the old Tongue simply because the core beginnings of this story lie 3000 years in the past -- and I've never heard of a language remaining unchanged over that length of time. We could not understand the English spoken by an Englishman from 1000 years ago, and we'd have difficulty understanding him from 500 years ago, and the same holds true for a Frenchman with his language or a German with his.
Lars-Remi (Kagato) from Norway: Is there any chance whatsoever that you could explain to us the full set of rules for the game 'Snakes and Foxes'? I would really like to try playing it.
RJ: (laughs) Not tonight! There's a fair description in one of the books, though -- perhaps someday I'll put it down in print somewhere. Really, it is a child's game.
Andrew Wilson from Toronto, Canada: Out of all the 'evil' characters you've created in the 8, now 9 books of the Wheel of Time series, which charcacter is the most dangerous to Rand?
RJ: Hmmm. Actually, I think the most dangerous character to Rand is Rand -- but among the others, each of them has their own particular danger toward Rand.
Cathy from Bigfork, Montana: From the Message to the Reader at the beginning of "Snow", you seemed to have mixed feelings about the e-book format. Being from a rural area, with few bookstores, I love it. How do you feel about this new format as an author and part of the publishing industry?
RJ: I feel that it's a very new format, and that we have at present no idea whatsoever in what direction it is going to develop, or how widely it will be accepted. At the moment, relatively few people buy ebooks, unless they are by Stephen King, say, or if they are self-help or business. Even then, the numbers are not very big as compared to actual books on paper.
Jeff Zervos from Long Island, NY: Mr. Jordan, The Wheel Of Time series is an incredible piece of work. It is truthfully beyond anything I have ever read, including the works of Tolkein. Is there any advise you could give to an aspiring writer who is having a terrible time getting started with his story? I'm also an amature actor and I look forward to auditioning for the part of Padan Fain one day.
RJ: The only advice I can give is to keep writing! But if you want to audition for the part of Padan Fain, maybe you ought to seek pychiatric help!
Dave from Mankato, Minnesota: What sort of things caused the Wheel of Time series to be so much longer than you originally anticipated? Culture description, character development, new plot developments, etc.? Or something else?
RJ: Not new plot, certainly. But I have been over-optimistic from the beginning about how much of the story I could get into each book. And in each case, I've found that I had to leave out things that I wanted to put into this book -- or in any given book -- and do them later.
Erik Hovda from Monterey, CA: I have heard of some authors writing themselves as a character in their books. Have you intentionally done that or perhaps see yourself in one of your characters? For example, Loial is taking notes so that he may write a book about Rand and the events surrounding him. Is he perhaps the "closest fit" to someone who embodies you for the series?
RJ: According to my wife, he is -- but I don't think so.
Ken Wimer from Vallejo, CA: Mr. Jordan, it is a such a pleasure to converse with you like this. (Unfortunately, I am at work, so I must submit this without knowing if it will actually get answered, being 10 AM PST!) My question: It is apparent that the majority of the "World" is and has been greatly influenced, if not outright controlled by females. As we all know, females and males must work together (as in a circle) so as to defeat the Dark One. Will we be seeing more of a "work together attitude" between men and women in your future novels, or more of the "women should control all while looking down their nose at men" theme?
RJ: Both. I'm not certain that I have a women-looking-down-their-nose at men theme; I simply have women that consider themselves competent in and of themselves.
James Koziol from Melbourne, Australia: Dear Mr. Jordan: Could you please give finally "reveal all" about who killed asmodean at the end of the fifth book of your series? Much speculation has been bandied about, and you have said yourself you have given us enough clues, so could you put said speculation to rest? Thanks for your great series, it's been a really good read so far!
RJ: No. I will not put the speculation to rest! I'm rather entertained by the speculation, actually.
Beth Silver from Austin, TX: Aside from the Heroes of the Horn waiting around in the World of Dreams, is there any kind of afterlife in WOT? Do the Heroes get a choice when they are linked to the Horn; can they retire, or take 'ordinary life' sabaticals?
RJ: In answer to the first question, yes, there is an ordinary afterlife. In answer to the second, no. You cannot decide NOT to be a hero linked to the Wheel.