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Dragon*Con 2010 Q&A with Brandon, 4 September 2010 - report by Marie CurieEdit
Finally, I've had a chance to transcribe the Q&A with Brandon after the ToM Prologue reading on 4 September 2010 at Dragon*Con. As has been mentioned before, though, the only really interesting comments were related to the ______ in the Blight, which has already been posted.
There were a couple of questions by audience members that I couldn't hear very well on the recording (including the first one), so I just included the gist of the question in the transcript.
Audience: Question about writing/reading as a kid and early influences...
Brandon: Oh, boy. It was less about what I wrote and more about what I read. Many of you have heard my story that I wasn't a reader until I was in 8th grade, and, you know, the teacher had me read a book. And the reason that book struck me so hard in part was because, you know, that middle school's a hard age, I think most of you will agree. It's an awkward age. And… I had, without really knowing it, been searching for a while for something that was me. Something that I could do, something that my talents would work for. I was always a daydreamer. And it wasn't till I read that fantasy novel that I said, "Wow, look at this. Here is somebody who does what I do, and they do it for a living. And they've turned it into a job. And here is something that is me." And right from the beginning I realized this is something I want to be doing. And so, it was about the books I was reading at the time that made me... I felt I'd found home, even though, you know... Just in those early books I read.
Audience: Two books in, who would you say has become your favorite character to write?
Brandon: I can't really answer, because... I can answer for a given book, generally. Because I would definitely say that for Gathering Storm Egwene was my favorite to write. And I've said that before.
Audience: What about for Towers of Midnight?
Brandon: For Towers of Midnight... see, if I say it's glittery...
Audience: I think that's enough answer right there.
Audience: ... As you finish this amazing saga, did you ever wrestle with the fact between your voice in the writing versus Robert Jordan’s voice in the writing? ...
Brandon: Did I ever wrestle between the voices? It was less of a wrestle and more of a process, but yes. I've spoken before about how I looked at the project and looked at the early notes, reread the series, and deciding if I was going to imitate Robert Jordan's voice or not. And I've talked about what I ended up doing, which I decided I would not try to imitate Robert Jordan's voice but I would adapt my voice to the Wheel of Time, which I felt would match better. And so, that worked almost universally. There are a few places that it didn't work as well as others that I then had to work on longer. It was not really a struggle. I mean, but because of what I decided to do, it was more of a "I am working to adapt my voice to make it appropriate to the Wheel of Time." And you will be able to notice words, it's going to be … it should be very easy if you actually sit down and break it down and say, "Oh here's a word that Brandon used that Robert Jordan never used." I try to actually remove as many of those as possible during the copy edit and editing stage. I don't worry about that at the beginning but then we'll say okay, if this is a word that's never appeared in the Wheel of Time before, then that's an appropriate word to just swap out and change. But at the same time you'll notice things. You'll notice things that I do that Jim didn't do. You'll notice my use of contractions is different from Jim's use of contractions. And that's just something that is going to be obvious if you look at it, but hopefully by matching the style of the Wheel of Time, not Robert Jordan, as soon as you're into it a few pages, the distinctions hopefully will fade. And that's what I was shooting for, because my goal was to make the characters sound like themselves. So I wouldn't say it was a struggle, though there were some places where it was harder than others.
Audience: This question has to do with a conversation I had with Wilson.
Brandon: Oh okay, is this going to be? Okay, I think I know what this is going to be.
Audience: At last JordanCon I was talking with Wilson, and he was telling me about the night that Robert Jordan told him the end of the book.
Brandon: Uh huh.
Audience: And he says that it started off with the word... they were talking about whatever, and it started off with Robert Jordan getting really quiet and then leaning in and saying, "There is a ______ in the Blight." To which that completely blindsides Wilson. He says, "There’s a what?!?" And Robert Jordan then says, "There's a ______ in the Blight and not even Harriet knows about it." And then went on for two hours describing about how this was important and pivotal and yet takes place... be really important for the end of the book. Any further hints?
Brandon: And see, Wilson can get away with stuff that I can't. And that is a story I've been told by three different people now. In fact, the first day I was there in Charleston, Harriet told it to me. Then Maria told it to me. And then I met Wilson later and he told it to me. Because that was the day when they suddenly said, "We need a tape recorder. Someone get a tape recorder." And I think Maria, like, went to the store to get one and came back with... But then, that was the session where he started for the first time dictating what was to happen and things like this. I do know that story. It's great for you to share it with everyone. I would not have shared that story because I have to be extra careful not to cross any lines. And so…you will get hints about whatever that was in the next book.
Audience: I've been kind of interpreting the Luc/Isam/Slayer as basically the dark side equivalent of a wolfbrother. Is that totally off base?
Terez: Robert Jordan says so.
Audience: It's totally off base?
Brandon: He is unique. How about that?
Audience: I heard recently that there were plans for more prequel novels. I was just curious if you were going to work on anything...
Brandon: A lot of people have asked this question. It's good to speak of it here because a lot of you are probably still wondering this. I get to answer this about once per signing. The short answer is probably not. I will give you the long answer, though. Robert Jordan was very uncomfortable with people writing in his world. You probably all know that. The stories of... people would ask what happens if you die before the series is done? He says, "I will have my hard drive reformatted and all of my notes burned," is what he used to say. He started changing his tune later in his life. And finally started, said "Well I'll have someone finish it," but mostly just said that to Harriet. Anyway, but he was very uncomfortable.
I personally don't think there would be anything wrong with doing the prequels or the outriggers since he said he was going to do them, and he signed contracts for them. However, they are a slippery slope. And I've used the metaphor before on tour that working on the Wheel of Time for us has been a little bit like being handed the One Ring. And we are now standing, holding the Ring over the gulf, and the question is when do we let go? And if we hang on too long, we risk undermining the legacy of a very great man and a very great series. And when we've talked about this, the general sentiment seems to be we would rather stop earlier and err on that side than err on going too far.
Yeah, I mean Tom pretty really wants to see them. You know, it's all going to be up to Harriet. If she makes the call, I will write them. But right now, this is the feeling that pretty much all us of have, and so I have a sense that it's going to be what I say.
Audience: In Book 5, we have all of those wagons filled with ter'angreal from the Waste. Are we ever going to see that again?
Audience: Any chance of another Alcatraz novel?
Brandon: There's another Alcatraz novel being released this fall. It is set for December. Scholastic almost always releases early. I bet you'll see it second week of November.
Audience: Is it through Scholastic?
Brandon: It is through Scholastic.
Audience: You may have been asked this before, I’m not sure, I’m just kind of curious. Dealing with the, when you were going through the process of when you decided to write this, and going through the notes and like learning the ending and everything … Working on somebody else’s project, like, when you found things out as a fan who's followed it for so long, were there parts that were almost kind of hard for you to write? Like, maybe you didn’t anticipate this happening? And it's like, you were like, "Holy crap!" I'm sure you wouldn't have
Were there parts that you were like, just wow, this is just really weird having to write this?
Brandon: I can talk on that for a sec here. Yes, in two different ways. There are some scenes that are very Robert Jordan scenes that are the type of scenes that I would never put... that I would just never write, just never naturally. I can only think of two scenes that were… One scene that way, and one scene that was just, I was completely not anticipating it, and so my brain had to… It wasn't hard to write when I actually got to the scene. But when I first read the notes, I’m like, "How am I going to do that?" Does that make sense?
Brandon: The first one you've already read. It occurs in Gathering Storm, and it involves someone's backside. Which is not, you know, it's very appropriate to the Wheel of Time, but I don't generally write spankings into my books. And so, I actually said, "I have to write a spanking scene?!?" All right, make it the best spanking scene ever!
The other scene has not come up yet so I can't tell you what it is. It was just a "wow." It was kind of that, "How did I miss that?" in part, and also a "I really need to make this really work really well." And anyway, I can tell you about that next year.
Audience: I apologize if this has been asked, but I haven't been stalking you. Do you agree with Robert Jordan that we have enough information to know who killed Asmodean?
Brandon: Are you from Theoryland? First, don't feel bad asking a question if others have asked it because the questions are always new to you. And I may, like I've said, get the same question every signing, but that just means it's a question I should already have a good answer to. Does that make sense? And so, on this one... Let me explain. My history with Asmodean is not the... I mean, I fall in the camp of the people who didn't even really care until I got online and everyone was talking about it. Does that make sense? Like, you know, I'm not naturally a really, really, really close reader, and I actually like it that way because then I can reread the series and always be like, "Oh yeah, I forgot this part. That one's great." And so, every time I got to that, "Oh yeah, some one killed him!" Which we'll find out eventually. ... But then I got online, and then I started talking to Wheel of Time fans. And then after our arguments about how to say Nynaeve's name, there was the whole Asmodean thing and "Who do you think did it?" And then I'm like, aaahhh, nah. And then I read all the theories and things. I didn't guess it. But I didn't want... you know, that wasn't what I was doing. When I read it, I'm like, "Oh! That theory is right!" 'Cause there's a theory for everyone. ... And I'd read all the theories, and I when I read it, I'm like, "Oh, that one was right! Obviously, it could be figured out because someone did it." That was my thought process. It was not, "Oh, I should have seen that myself."
Audience: The Aelfinn and the Eelfinn. Are there more? Did I miss huge tracts of information about them throughout the books, because I feel very unknowledgeable by going into this book?
Brandon: You have not missed anything if you have read the sequences where people go through the Redstone doorways. You have the same information that everyone else has, except for a few Theorylanders who've asked very obscure questions of Robert Jordan. (Terez: And you.) But yeah, you know what you need to know from that and from the discussions in the book. And the things you need to know will mostly be re-covered in this book.
Audience: Hi, I don't know if you're going to be able to answer this, but Matrim, Perrin, and Rand - the three of them, they've - they all kind of started out similar, they both have done way different things, they've both grow in really different and really interesting ways, but I was just wondering between the three of them, if you had a favorite one, or one you felt that's the most interesting?
Brandon: Generally, I answer this question by explaining I have different favorites throughout the process of reading the books. When I started, Rand was my favorite because Rand was the main character, and Rand was awesome. Through the middle books, it generally became Perrin because Rand became… he became the Dragon Reborn. And he's cool, he's still awesome, but Perrin was more like me. And then… and then, Perrin got kind of broody, and Mat really became my favorite in the ending books. And I think you'll probably find that's common, I just followed... that's what a lot of the fans I found felt. I would say overall, most of the time, it's been Perrin. He's had the longest.... Perrin, you know, he's Perrin.
URL for report: http://www.theoryland.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=3930