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Excerpts from Locus Magazine, March 2006Edit
Robert Jordan: The Wheel Turns
James Oliver Rigney, Jr. was born in Charleston, South Carolina, two tours in Vietnam for the US Army, and graduated military college The Citadel with a degree in physics.
First novel The Fallon Blood (1980), a historical novel written under the pseudonym Reagan O'Neal, was followed by western Cheyenne Raiders, written as by Jackson O'Reilly, in 1982. His first book as Robert Jordan, Conan the Invincible, appeared in 1982, followed by five more original Conan novels and the novelization of the second Conan movie. The first fantasy novel set in a world of his own creation was The Eye of the World (1990), the start of his wildly popular epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. Other books in the series are The Great Hunt (1990); The Dragon Reborn (1991); The Shadow Rising (1992); The Fires of Heaven (1993); Lord of Chaos (1994); A Crown of Swords (1996);
The Path of Daggers (1998); Winter's Heart (2000); Crossroads of Twilight (2003); and Knife of Dreams (2005). The concluding volume, tentatively titled A Memory of Light, is forthcoming. He also wrote a prequel set in the same world, New Spring: The Novel (2004). He plans to write at least two other prequel novels once the main sequence is finished. Illustrated guide The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, co-written with Teresa Patterson, appeared in 1998.
Excerpts from the interviews:
“Before I start a book I always sit down and try to think how much of the story I can put into it. The outline is in my head until I sit down and start doing what I call a ramble, which is figuring how to put in the bits and pieces. In the beginning, I thought The Wheel of Time was six books and I'd be finished in six years.
“I started The Wheel of Time knowing how it began and how it all ended. I could have written the last scene of the last book 20 years ago -- the wording would be different, but what happened would be the same. When I was asked to describe the series in six words, I said, 'Cultures clash, worlds change -- cope. I know it's only five, but I hate to be wordy.' What I intended to do was a reverse-engineered mythology to change the characters in the first set of scenes into the characters in the last set of scenes, a bunch of innocent country folk changed into people who are not innocent at all. I wanted these boys to be Candides as much as possible, to be full of 'Golly, gee whiz!' at everything they saw once they got out of their home village. Later they could never go back as the same person to the same place they'd known.”
“In fantasy you're allowed to have at least some dividing line between good and evil, right and wrong. I really believe people want that. In so much of literature there's total moral ambiguity: good is not merely the flip side of evil, it's on the same side of the coin. Quite often you can't tell the difference between the two. If you want to talk about good and evil in mainstream literature, you do it with a nudge and a wink to show that you're really joking, but in fantasy you can say, 'This is right, this is wrong; this is good, this is evil.' OK, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, but it's worth the effort to try.
“Nobody has ever gotten up one morning and said, 'I am a villain' or 'I will be a villain.' What they say is 'I want power.' Serial killers want power, and so do rapists and a lot of other villains, but let’s stick with one sort as an example. You want power and you convince yourself that your being in power will be the best for everyone. That is the way most politicians work. But then there are the guys who say, 'I want power, and if I can convince them that it's the best for everyone, all to the good. I don't give a good goddam whether it is or not, as long as it's good for me.' He doesn't think he's a villain; he's just trying to do the best he can for himself. But he's on the road to villainy. Unfortunately, so are some of the guys who said, 'This is going to be for the best for all the people involved.' If you do what you believe is the best thing in the world and the result is you deliver millions of people into slavery, as Lenin did in Russia, are you a villain? Yes, you are.”
“After Knife of Dreams, there's going to be one more main-sequence Wheel of Time novel, working title A Memory of Light. It may be a 2,000-page hardcover that you'll need a luggage cart and a back brace to get out of the store. (I think I could get Tor to issue them with a shoulder strap embossed with the Tor logo, since I've already forced them to expand the edges of paperback technology to nearly a thousand pages!) Well, it probably won't be that long, but if I'm going to make it a coherent novel it's all got to be in one volume. The major storylines will all be tied up, along with some of the secondary, and even some of the tertiary, but others will be left hanging. I'm doing that deliberately, because I believe it will give the feel of a world that's still out there alive and kicking, with things still going on. I've always hated reaching the end of a trilogy and finding all of the characters', all the country's, all the world's, problems are solved. It's this neat resolution of everything, and that never happens in real life.”
“I've already signed contracts for an unrelated trilogy called Infinity of Heaven, which I'm very excited about. I've been poking that idea around in my head for 10 or 12 years.”
URL for interview: http://www.locusmag.com/2006/Issues/03Jordan.html