Bookstream Bookwrap - Crossroads of Twilight 2002Edit
These are transcripts of short video clips of an interview with RJ around the time of the release of Crossroads of Twilight.
The Wheel of Time saga
The Wheel of Time is a story of a world in change, and of people in change. These are ordinary people who find themselves thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Their world is altering, their society is altering, quite often in ways they don't like. And they are learning that some of these things they can change the direction of, or stop the changes, but they can't stop everything. Change happens, no matter what you want to happen, change is going to happen. And they are changing as well. By Crossroads of Twilight, if you followed from The Eye of the World, you'd realize that they are the same people they were in the beginning, but you also realize they're very different people. They have been changed by their world changing and by their experiences, just as much as their world has changed.
Mat, Perrin, and Rand
For the three young men, Mat Cauthon is a happy-go-lucky fellow who wants nothing more than to dance with the girls and have a drink, and maybe gamble a little bit. And his major philosophy in life seems to be: have fun and kiss the girls, and if she doesn't want to kiss me, well there's another one down the street who will. Perrin Aybara wants to be a blacksmith. That is what he works at. And that's all he wants, to make things. Rand al'Thor is a shepherd's son, or thinks he is. And that is really all he has ever thought he wanted to do, was take over his father's farm one day.
Working to an Ending
Each time I sit down with certain events, certain things that I want to put into a book, because I'm working to a scene, to an ending that I have known since 1984/1985. I could have written the last scene of the last book in 1985, and if I had done so and set it aside, well, the wording might be different from what I would use today, but what happens would be exactly the same – I know where I'm going. But each time I sit down to write this book and I realize at some point in it, if I put everything in this book that I want to put in this book, they're going to have to sell a shopping cart with it, or at least a carry strap and some wheels. I write books that come out in 700 pages and up in hardcover, and that is, if I were putting everything in that I thought I was going to put in, they would be 1500 or 1600 pages in hardcover. So telling the story has taken longer than I thought it would.
My Childhood Influences
Three books: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, From the Earth to the Moon. I was five years old; I started reading early. I set those books up on a table on end, and I sat in a chair with my feet in the chair, and my chin on my knees – I was a little skinnier then. And I stared at those books and I said, "I'm going to do this one day. I'm gonna make stories like this one day." I can make a living writing books. This is wonderful, this is great. Yes, I love to write. It's sort of like finding out you can make a living eating chocolate.
Experience and Character Behavior
I don't think it's possible to filter out who you are or where you came from or what you've experienced from what you write. If you can manage to filter yourself out of your writing entirely, then what you write is sterile. In the Wheel of Time, I've tried to give you not only characters who are people that you think you could meet, but people who behave the way those people would behave. And I put them in a world that is as different from this world as I can make it. And I try to make that world come alive in your head cinematically. I want you to see a different place, and to see it completely when you're reading what I write.
Nothing Stays the Same
I come from Charleston, South Carolina, which is a city that has undergone tremendous changes. The time of the American Revolution, it was the wealthiest city in North America. It was also the site of the Secession Convention that started the Civil War, and as a result of that, it was written out of the histories. You learn, growing up under those circumstances, that nothing stays the same. Even when you look around you and see all of these old houses, and what tourists think of as a stable old culture, it's changed a hundred times in the last two hundred years. You realize that things that people think of as permanent, such as history, are mutable. They are changed by the observer. And what is remembered of history often becomes more important than what actually happened.