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This chat transcript was obtained from a chat with Robert Jordan on Compuserve's SF/Fantasy Forum on 26 June 1996.
Will we ever know the specifics of Logain's escape, or rather, are they significant at all? — Cy
- Read and find out. Sorry about that!
We know of high ranking Darkfriends among the Aes Sedai and Whitecloaks. Is it safe to assume that there's one placed near each of the ta'veren as well? — Hopper
- Gee guys, read and find out!
Considering all the work you've been through already, you'll probably hate this question, but when can we expect the next book, and how many more do you expect? Will you be writing any other books that are similar fantasy/fiction? — David Berenthal
- First, I expect to deliver the next book n the Fall of next year, which means that it will probably be published in the spring of 1998.
- I do not know how many more books there will be. There will be at least ten total, probably more but the safest way to say that is to say "there will be a few more, not too many, and please god not as many as have already been written!" Other books? Not until I finish the Wheel of Time. I am already working in my head on what I'll do after that. it is indeed a fantasy series. I have a long gestation period for my books. The Wheel of Time gestated for at least ten years before it appeared on paper, and Shipwreck seems to be doing at least that.
You are an inspiration among fantasy writers. I am wondering how you started on this massive undertaking? — Ryssgarde
- Well, I wrote! I had some ideas and I wrote them! I don't know how else to say it.
First, I'd like to thank you for such a great series. The Wheel of Time is probably the best I've read... My Question: Do you know roughly what will happen between now (Book 7) and the last scene of the last book, or are you making it up as you go along? — Lyndon Goodacre
- Yes and no. I know the last scene of the last book. I know the major events I want to happen between now and then. I know who will be alive and who will be dead at the end of the series. I know the situation of the world. I know all of those things, but I leave how to get from one point to the next free so that I can achieve some fluidity. I don't want it too rigid, which is what I think will happen if i plan in too great a detail.
Mr. Jordan: How do create the personalities for your main characters? What inspires you to help make your people believably different? — Edward Henry
- I sit down and do a sort of descriptive sketch of each character. What do they believe about certain things? What do they like to do, and what do they not like to do? It's very useful as long as I make sure that a character continues to react as they would. The fault, the mistake is to decide to make a character behave or speak in a certain way because you need it to happen in the story and the devil with whether the character would do or say that.
Being English, I cannot help but notice that you are very much centered in the US. Bearing this in mind, do you consider yourself an international author who is based in America or an American author who just happens to have an international following? — James Tillett
- I would have to say I'm an American author, and more specifically that I'm a Southern author. My voice is both very American and very Southern. I've been lucky in that people in a great many nations seem to enjoy that voice, though.
I noticed that your other pen name is Sean O'Neal. Did you draw Mat's "Band of the Red Hand" from family stories? — Searles O'Dubhain
- No. That came from my mind twisting certain mythologies that I had read, certain legends.
Were Ba'alzamon's burning eyes and mouth caused by being zapped by Eldrene at the Fall of Manetheren? — DeWitt Payne
- No. Sorry guys! But at least I didn't say, "Read and find out!"
Mr. Jordan,I think you're series is the most detailed and still the most broad in scope series currently running. How do you keep everything straight?...Also, how books do you see in the future before this "series" of the Wheel is done turning? — Charles W. Otten
- I keep detailed files on every character, every nation, every culture, every facet of the world I can imagine. If I printed out all of the manuscripts of all the of the books, and all of the notes, there would be twice as many pages of notes and of course that doesn't encompass the great quantity of things I have tucked away in my head so solidly fitted there I feel no need to put them in the notes.
I find your characterization of the relationships between the male and female characters to be interesting, and amusing. Did you model Nynaeve after an older sister or other female that tortured you in your youth? :) — Hopper
- All of the women are modeled in one way or another after the conglomerate of women I've met in my life but every single one of them, EVERY one of them, has some element of my wife in her. I won't say what elements are in what characters, we'd get too far afield. I will say it has nothing to do with torture in that particular case.
How was the Dark One created, i.e. is he a fallen angel, an inherent part of the universe, etc.? — Martin Reznick
- I envision the Dark One as being the dark counterpart, the dark balance if you will, to the Creator carrying on the theme, the yin yang, light dark, necessity of balance theme that has run through the books. It's somewhat Manichean I know, but I think it works.
Mr. Jordan. I love your series, it is intricate and interesting. My favorite character (other than Rand) is Mat. People have speculated that Odin was the outline for this character. I see Chukullen (misspelled). Could you elaborate? — Brendan T. Lavin
- There are a number of characters reflected, mythological characters, reflected in each of the books because of the basic theme, if you will, of the books, that information becomes distorted over distance or time you cannot know the truth of an event the further you get from it. These people are supposed to be the source of a great many of our legends or myths, but what they actually did bears little resemblance to the myth. That is the conceit, that time has shifted these actions to other people, perhaps compressing two people into one or dividing one into three as far as their actions go. So Rand has bits of Arthur and bits of Thor and bits of other characters and so does Mat and so does Nynaeve, and so do others. And yes Mat does have some bits of Odin, but not exclusively. He has bits of Loki and bits of Coyote and of the Monkey King.
I like your use of strong female characters. Was there any inspiration for this? — Eric Ligner
- Yes, I grew up in a family of strong women. Most of the women i knew growing up were quite strong. I very early on realized that ---well, it seemed natural, this is how I saw the world. There were strong women and strong men and when weak men came along they were ridden over. But the fact that there were strong women didn't mean no strong men. Again, it's a given, there had to be a balance.
I love the song lyrics in your books. Do you write songs and music other than in the books? — Lauryn
- No, not at all I'm afraid. Some poetry to my wife now and then, that's all.
You include a glossary in every novel. Any chance we'll see a companion book with EVERY term defined? How about prequels to this series? — Ryssgarde
- The possibility of a companion book with all the terms defined is fairly strong--once the series is done of course! As far as prequels, that would depend entirely on my coming up with a story I'd like to tell that is set there. It's not enough to say, "I just want to write what came before this." I tell the history of this world in great detail already. I will add that we're putting together an illustrated guide which will include some things that are not in the books such as the story of Arthur Hawkwing's rise and fall.
The character Beidomon was presumably very powerful in the Age of Legends and it has been suggested by some that he is still knocking around in the current age, possibly as Mordeth. Is there any truth in this? — James Tillett
Do you ever plan to print/release any of the notes or character sketches, or anything like that? — Timmorn
- Well, some of the information has gone into the illustrated guide, and I expect some would go into the dictionary/encyclopedia, whatever, when the series is done.
First I'd like to thank you for such a wonderful series. I'm curious about something, do you ever look at some of things people theorize about your books, in your newsgroup for example. Do you ever look to see how close other people's theories are? — Karl Schwede
- Yes, but only when someone sends me a FAQ. Sometimes someone will send me a print out of the latest FAQ from the latest source, or send it on disk (it helps if I can access it through Wordperfect 5.1) generally these things divide up evenly. A third of the answers are right, a third are almost right, and a third are very off the wall.
What made you decide to make male Aes Sedai go insane verses female Aes Sedai using magic somewhat safely? — Jeff Jarrell
- I'm not sure about the last of that question, but this was part of the basis, the foundation of the story. If women had gone insane using the power and not men, it would be a much different world, a much different story and not the story I was interested in writing!
Your female characters have so much feeling and emotion. How do you accomplish this as a male author? — Charles Dockens Jr.
- With difficulty. I'll tell you, when I was about four years old, I was picked up by a friend of my mother and she hugged me, she was wearing a soft, silky summer dress, and her perfume smelled life... and as she put me down, my face slipped between her breasts...and throughout the experience, I was thinking, "this is wonderful, this feels wonderful", and though I was four I found I wanted to spend my life observing these fascinating people...and I've learned that they look different, they feel different, they are different, and I've put all this into the books.
Are there any particular themes that you have added since the beginning e.g. theme or characters that you did not have in mind when you first thought up the series? Are there any items of the story that have been cut out that you would like to tell us about? — Dave Berenthal
- In both cases, no. I have, in some cases, developed the story in ways that I did not quite intend to at first, but there has been no important character who has been deleted, there has been no necessity to add in something I did not expect to add in.
I am an avid reader of author Ayn Rand. A hero in her novel The Fountainhead matches Rand 's physical description exactly. Coincidence? — Martin Reznick
- Coincidence--I'm afraid I haven't read Ayn Rand since college.
Mr. Jordan: I like the fact that the main characters are a little unsure of themselves and how to proceed in their world, particularly Rand. Instead, the traditional "superhuman" is Lan, who plays a background role thus far. Will we see more of him? — mark
- Yes, some more.
One of the Forsaken once said of the current Aes Sedai, "They bind themselves like criminals." Was the Forsaken referring to the Oath Rod? — Bill Powers
- Read and find out! (He twirls his mustache maniacally.)
Why introduce a somewhat important character like Cadsuane so late in the series? Is the fact that it seems a little odd supposed to be a clue? — Steven D. Salisbury
- She's introduced late in the series because this is the place where she was supposed to come in. I didn't expect her to be a part earlier in the series--there was nothing for her to do! We introduce no character before her time. With apologies to Orson Welles.
Have you ever put your own personality in one of your characters, or do you liken yourself to one of your characters? — Ammon
- Well, I expect there's a bit of me in all of the male characters. My secretary thinks that I am Mat. My wife thinks I'm Loial. Other people have said they detected me in other characters, but I think it's just a bit of me in all of the male characters. I'm not sure how I could have written them otherwise.
Do you have a favorite character? If so whom, and how do you avoid doing bad things to those you "love"? — Edward Henry
- One, my favorite character is always the one I am writing at that moment, even when I'm writing one of the Forsaken or Padan Fain. I always try to get into that character's skin, so that I can write about that character with success. As far as doing things to characters I like, well, if the story calls for bad things to happen, so shall it be. We do not all make it to the end of the road, however good or fair.
A follow up to the previous Beidomon Question: Is he somewhere in the current Age? — Matt Campbell
- Read and find out.
Speaking of illustrations, do you feel the cover illustrations to your books accurately reflex your characters and settings? — Searles O'Dubhain
- Probably as well as they could d without me doing the drawings. There is no way that someone else can do an illustration that gives exactly the image that is in my head given the limits on how much description I can give Daryl Sweet when he's doing his cover paintings, he's doing a good job. The only way to do it better is do it myself, and I have no skill there!
Do you draw upon your military education for your battles or from general knowledge? — Eric Ligner
- From both, actually.
I'd like to thank you for your wonderful series. It has provided me with many hundreds of hours of entertainment at home and at work. Are there any other fantasy authors or titles that you are particularly fond of? Do you ever re-read your own Wheel of Time? — Moiraine Damodred
- The only time I re-read is to check on something when I have to make sure of exactly what I said. In a certain circumstance about a certain character or incident. As far as the people I read, there are far too many to list. Tad Williams, Barry Hughhart, Ray Feist, it could be a very long list, but we'd be here quite a time listing authors.
I would like to see the fires in Rand's head quenched, but I would settle for them being significantly subdued. Do you find yourself WANTING to make things happen sooner so that you can delve into other areas of a character's psyche? — Ryssgarde
- I sometimes feel impatience but I am trying to maintain the same pace, making great effort to maintain that pace, to go neither faster nor slower than I have gone before.
Of the many themes that occur throughout your books, which do you consider the most important? — James Tillett
- I think that's for the reader to decide. I like to put things out there and let the readers absorb them as they will. One of the things that has happened that I rather enjoyed was listening to some people talk as they waited for me to sign books...they were discussing the books, then changed the subject, and, without meaning to, were discussing what I consider one of the subjects of the books..that was very gratifying.
In the first five books, the pace of the story, switching between character situations and the action in general was high speed and covered significant periods of time. In Lord of Chaos, the story seemed to slow. Was this intentional or only my perception? — D. John Witherspoon
- It covered a shorter period of time, but in Lord of Chaos and A Crown of Swords there were a great many things that happen in a short time that made it necessary to have the books, if not slower paced from the reader's point of view, slower as far as the chronology is concerned.
I was wondering if you accept fan mail.....if so, how can I write to you? Also, how many books long do you think this series will end up being? I have no objections to it being long....... — Egeanin
- I like receiving fan mail! Write care of TOR books, 175 Fifth Avenue, NY NY 10010. They forward fan mail to me at fairly regular intervals. There will be a few more books, but not too many.
Mr. Jordan, I have found the prophesies in your books very structured. Would you recommend a prospective author structuring any prophesy in this way? And, did you establish the main prophesies in the series early on and think to yourself, "Now how am I going to fulfill that one?" — Brendan T. Lavin
- Well, it is a matter of knowing what I wanted to happen in the story, and how I wanted the story to go, and placing prophecies that would foretell these events, sometimes in very shadowy ways. As far as structuring prophecies for your own work, I think you should do it however you want to do it; it's the only way you can!
I really like the romance in your stories and I was wondering if you could tell us how and where you met your wife (if it's not too personal) and, also, if she ever pulled a Moiraine/Lan on you, i.e., pouring ice water over you while you slept? — Ha T. Nguyen
- Well, I met my wife --the actual story is very long and complicated--but I met her because she had come back to Charleston to set up her own publishing company and I was in the process of quitting my engineering job to write. As far as the ice water, no, she has never poured ice water over my head, but she has made motions toward my belly button with a paring knife. She says this is wholly unconscious. I have my doubts.
I've heard that there is going to be a Wheel of Time computer game... How much are you involved in this (if it's true), and how do you feel about a game based on your work? — Lyndon Goodacre
- Well, it's true, it's in the works from Legend Entertainment. I'm involved to the extent that I told them I would not accept the first scenario they gave me. I told them there were certain things I wanted done in the game, such as being able to play as a female character, multiple solutions to problems, being able to get through segments without solving all the problems, and they're working on it. Apparently Glenn Dahlgren, who is designing the game, is very much in agreement with me on these things.
Are there limits to the Dark One's power besides: inability to reincarnate balefired people, and his imprisonment. — Martin Reznick
- Read and find out! Obviously, there are some limits or he simply would have ripped the prison open and done as he wanted to do. With an absolutely powerful character, there is no story, or at least the story goes "it shall be as I will it to be," he said, and so it was...the end. That's the whole story.
Mr Jordan, please forgive if this is redundant, as I just recently joined the conference. Is Moiraine well and truly dead? or could her and Mierin/Lanfear reappear at some later venue? — Mike @ Detroit
- Read and find out!
Mr Jordan, I was wondering where you came up with the "old language" and the Aiel language? Are there preset rules to them and it is a functioning language? Or do you just have a set of words that you devised and insert when needed? — Scott Robertson
- It's a functioning language in that I have developed a basic grammar and syntax, and have a vocabulary list which I have devised, some from Gaelic of course, but from languages less often used: Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. I try to follow these rules that I've set up, but occasionally I realize I have to invent a new rule because I'm doing something I've never done before, but it all follows the grammar I've devised. As far as the Aiel that I've devised as a culture, they have bits of Apache, bits of Bedouin, bits that are simply mine.
I know you've said we have enough information to figure it out for ourselves, but, are you ever going to come right out and say who (or what) killed Asmodean? — Bill Powers
- Read and find out! (sound of villainous laughter in the background--the Phantom of the Opera lives)
What are your days like and how do you discipline yourself to write? Is it something you only do when the mood strikes, or do you work at a page, despite it not really flowing, and then edit like hell later? — Seanchan
- A writer who waits for the mood or the muse to strike will starve to death because he or she won't write very much. I write almost every day, I would say every day, but occasionally I actually do something else. My typical day is to have breakfast, answer the phone calls I have to answer, deal with the letters, and then i sit down and start writing. I then write for at least the next eight hours straight, and sometimes ten or twelve or more, though I do occasionally take a day off to go fishing, my usual week is seven days.
I find you're style similar to Ernest Hemingway in you're attention to detail. Do you consciously write this way, or do you find yourself just writing this way? I wish to write in the future after life's experiences and this would be of great assistance. — Charles W. Otten
- I simply write the way I write. I don't try to imitate anyone. I've certainly read--and still read--Hemingway, and admire most of his books, but I think the person with the greatest influence on my style is Mark Twain. The trouble with that is that I've read a great many authors, and I can't say who has most influenced me over the years without my knowing it.
Thank you -- I've really enjoyed the series and look forward to reading your current book. I'm having trouble placing the amount of time that has gone by since the early days when the Aes Sedai came to Two Rivers. How long has it been? Also, will Nynaeve and Lan every get together, face to face? — Dawn Rosen
- It's about two years since the beginning. Roughly--very roughly. As to them getting together, read and find out, my dear, read and find out (he chuckled richly).
I find it interesting that there is no formal theology in the series. Why is this? — Gail Ann Shafton
- This is a world where what might be called the proofs of religion are self-evident all the time. It seemed to me there was no necessity for the trappings of religion which by and large are to reinforce us in our faith and to convince others if your beliefs are made concrete and manifest around you at any given time there is not the need for that.
Are we going to see Moiraine again?? Lanfear?? My wife would like to know why none of the main characters have any children. Are there any in their future?? — mark danehy
- Read and find out. Most of the main characters are both very young and unmarried. Even some of the older ones are unmarried--so they have no kids, but read and find out. We'll see what happens.
Speaking of book signings, is there a tour in the works? If so, when? — Hopper
- Not for A Crown of Swords per se...there is a tour in the fall, I don't know exactly when, for the reprinting of some of my historical novels. It looks as though that will be expanded to include some areas where I normally wouldn't appear for those to make it a partial tour for A Crown of Swords. The Tor Books website will give details (and so will Book Preview).
With the scope of this work, it must have been on your mind for a long time. When did you first conceive the story and how many years after that was the first book published? — Eric Ligner
- I had the first notions for this book, I guess it was 1975 or 76. For these books I should say, but there were a lot of things to think out, a lot of changes I went through. For instance the character of Rand and Tam were originally one. I spent about ten years noodling the story around in the back of my head before I ever put words on paper, but that's rather typical for me. My books have a fairly long gestation period.
Which of the books did you enjoy writing the most and which was the biggest let-down? — Matt Campbell
- None of them has been a let-down. And I always enjoy the book that I'm writing the most. I do try to make each book better than the last one I've done. When I've finished with a book, I'm on to enjoying the next one, and working on the next one.
How much editing do your books get? Does the story or your writing get modified? — Edward Henry
- The story does not get modified. Occasionally the writing is modified to this extent--a good editor tells you what is wrong, as another set of eyes. A good editor says, "I don't understand what you're saying here, you haven't told me enough, you haven't made me believe that this person will do this or say this." And then I go back and work at making sure the editor is convinced. Remember the editor is the first reader. If the editor isn't convinced, I doubt the fans will be either.
Have you ever considered making the Wheel of Time into a movie? — John
- With almost every book that has come out, and certainly every one that has made the bestseller lists, there's a feeler about a movie...but it always goes away, because any one of these books would have to be a TV miniseries. There's no way that I can see to compress them into a three hour movie or even a four hour movie. That's not to say it won't happen, but I don't really expect it.
Congratulations on A Crown of Swords. It is a wonderful read. Do you find the extra several months you took to write it contributed to the overall readability of the book and actually made it shorter in length? — Jim Porter
- Possibly. It was actually a good bit more in time. With the exception of The Eye of the World, which took four years to write, each of these books has taken me somewhere on the order of thirteen or fourteen months. A Crown of Swords took twenty months. There were several things I had to work out. Too much was happening and the book would have been too long. I had to work to cut things out--and that's not as easy as it sounds.
Is their any particular inspiration for the Forsaken, and the other antagonists in your series, as their are for the women characters. Demandred and how he was always an inch behind Lews Therin (in the power, in swordsmanship etc...), for example, was there a particular inspiration for that? — Karl Schwede
- Well, there are--and i won't go into details because I want to keep the mythological and legendary roots hidden--I don't want to have people spending more time discussing the legends than the stories! The thing is there are several legends and myths based on such jealousy, on the man who is just a half a step short of another man, the woman who would have been the greatest of her age, but there was another who was just a bit better... that sort of jealousy leads to the worst kind of hatred. When someone can easily defeat you, there's not that kind of jealousy, but when he beats you in a photo finish every single time, that is when emotions begin to curdle and rancor sets in, and you find yourself with this festering deep inside that can turn into murderous hatred.
The initiation rituals for raising an Accepted to Aes Sedai seem to be based upon some sort of real-life ceremonies. Where did you get the idea for the three passes through the "ter'angreal"? — Searles O'Dubhain
- Trinities and threes and multiples of three or seven turn up again and again in mythologies and legends throughout the world and in ceremonies throughout the world. That part is hardly original. It's something that speaks to us on some deeper level. It's so prevalent, it must. It's all pervasive.
You approach the issues of sex love and the like with all of your characters while maintaining an almost virginal perspective and yet there is a GREAT deal of nudity throughout the novels. No problem with this but when are Rand and Matt and Perrin going to stop thinking the other has the upper hand? — Ryssgarde
- I'm not sure that they ever will. Who knows? It seems to me to be a very human thing in dealing with the opposite sex at least to think that somebody else knows more about it than you do. You might swagger and put on a surface belief of "well, I have that nailed!" but I think for most people, there's a little voice in the back saying "God, he really does know how to handle women, doesn't he?" or "God, she really does know all about men!"
It seems to me many authors say they write because the books they wanted to read hadn't been written yet... Is this true in your case? — Lyndon Goodacre
- Oh , I suppose it might be. If I were just a tad lazier of course, I could quite happily sit back and read other people's stories forever...the truth of the matter is that I have these stories that I'D like to tell. If someone had gotten there ahead of me, I might never have written...or, who knows, I might have found I had another set of stories to tell that no one had written.
Does your world have defined natural laws in terms of: the One Power, the True Power, the weather, etc. or do you make them up as you go along? — Martin Reznick
- There are set laws --there have to be -- if you write stories where anything can happen, they get flabby, you lose focus. I have certain set laws and limits on the One Power, the True Power, and all of this...and these limits and laws come out in pieces...they are not the focus of the stories so they only come out in bits and pieces. I'd like to thank everyone for coming. Good night everybody!