From: ("T.McCormick")

Hi there, Well here's my story, back in November I sent an email to the SF-Lovers asking if anybody had any questions they wanted Robert Jordan author of the Wheel of Time asked as I was going to a book signing of his, here in Glasgow.

However to my dismay, I discovered I couldn't make it to the book signing in the afternoon, so I typed a small letter to Robert Jordan explaining my situation and including a list of the questions which I had received via the internet, asking if he could possibly answer the questions at his leisure. I also give him a copy of the Wheel of Time FAQ which I had received via email and which I had printed and bound.

A couple of weeks later I received a reply.

I would have emailed this response to Sf-lovers sooner however my rights to the network had been restricted, however my position has now changed and what follows is the questions I posed then the letter he sent me.


Question 1

When will the next book be released (UK & USA) and what will it be titled?

Question 2

Do you currently think it will be 7 or 8 books total, also will the books continue to remain as 'chunky' as tFoH &tSR?

Question 3

In tFoH, in the chapters "The Far Snows" and "A Short Spear," was the timing of events deliberately precalculated by him, or not? If the first is true, I'm not asking for an explanation --presumably we'll get that in a later book. I'm just asking for a yes or a no. (If he wants to know why the question was put, please just say the two words "time zones.")

Question 4

Ask him if he knows about all the Jordan junkies on the network. Tell him we love his books and are frenzied to know when the next one is coming out. Get him to confirm that Verin is not Black. (not that he will of course; then again, those of us who know, know that she isn't) Please find out if Lews Therin balefired himself in the prologue in EotW, or if he just drew too much of the OP. If it isn't critical to the continuing plot, I'm sure he'll say.

Question 5

We don't want to pry; however it was rumoured that you had suffered a heart attack recently and your devoted readers are concerned for your welfare;

Question 6

What is the name of the next book and will Perrin be in it a bit more than tFoH.

Question 7

I have found and read your Conan books, however are there any other books that you have had published and are there any other books unrelated to the Wheel of Time that you are working on?

Robert Jordan's ReplyEdit

I found the compendium fascinating. It is startling how much your group has puzzled out correctly, but I have to tell you that some of what you worked out is wrong, concerning both me and the books, but I have it in mind not to tell you which parts. That way you can have the pleasure of figuring out for yourselves where you went astray. (Easy to say that when I'm four or five thousand miles away.)

With regard to the covers, both my editor and I have fought long and hard to get them to be the way they should be. And obviously with a high futility quotient. Countless descriptions of Trollocs, pointing out that Rand is approximately 6'5"--'6" tall, descriptions of the swords, of Perrin's axe, etc.

The "dwarf Moiraine on a pony" problem was only the first, along with Lan being in armour and the Robin Hood clothes. I do not assign blame. On those occasions when either my editor or I have been able to speak directly to Darryl Sweet, the problems in sketches have been solved handily for the most part. (You did not realise that there were discrepancies in the sketches which never made it onto the covers, did you?) Sometimes you just give up after awhile; with Rand's height, for instance. After five books showing him as maybe 6' tall, I've simply bagged trying for the extra 6". As for the changing hair colours, I fear you must look to the printing process for that blame. When we see the cover painting, all colours are as we wish them to be, but then we must hope that the colours are reproduced with some degree of faithfulness on the actual covers. The expense of printing covers and/or dust jackets is such that no publisher is going to throw away a set and reprint simply because the characters' hair has changed colour.

Now for your questions.

l) The next book (#6; Lord OF CHAOS) should be released in the UK in November 1994. I'd have it out quicker if I could, but it does take a little time to write these books.

2) At present I am indeed hoping to complete the cycle in either seven or eight books. I am 90% confident that I can do it in seven, 95% confident that I can by eight. The thing is, as a famous manager of an American baseball team once said: "It ain't over till it's over." I know the last scene of the last book and the resolutions of all the major story lines. I have known these things since the very beginning. It is just a matter of getting there. And I am afraid the rest of the books very likely will be as large as SHADOW and FIRES. Sorry. I've been thinking about asking the publisher to include a shoulder strap. At least I haven't topped a thousand pages in Hardcover yet.

3) Yes, the timing was calculated. I know how far to the west Seanchan lies.

4) I know about the "Jordan junkies" (ahem! Blush!), now. Lews Therin did not use balefire on himself; he simply drew as much of the One Power as he could, then kept on pulling it in. As for Verin: read and find out. Surely you agree with Oscar Wilde about the suspense? I will try to keep you right a tiptoe as long as I can.

5) No, I did not have a heart attack, nor any sort of medical problem whatsoever. My wife did have heart surgery, she has made a full recovery); this may be the source of the rumours. Many thanks for your concern.

6) LORD OF CHAOS is the title of number six at present. (See #1.) A working title, but I like it. As for Perrin, he will definitely be back sooner or later.

7) I have been a writer for seventeen years now, and have had a number of other books published (Westerns, international intrigue, historical fiction), as well as essays, dance review and theatre criticism, but no other fantasy save the Conan novels. I've written only one piece of short fiction in my life, aside from school assignments, and it was never published. I will probably write in those other genres again from time to time; I enjoy them. I am working on something unconnected with THE WHEEL OF TIME, though I have not yet begun writing it. (Books percolate about in my head for a long time before anything goes onto paper.) It will be the next thing after THE WHEEL is complete. It will be fantasy, in a different universe than THE WHEEL.

My editor says it will be people's chance to see a society like the Seanchan Empire, but that is simply because most of the action will take place in a culture much like Seanchan. The main male character, who is shipwrecked there, comes from a place that might he considered a cross between Elizabethan England and the Italian city-states of the Renaissance with touches of the seventeenth century. I intend him to be a man in his thirties, a man of some experience and worldliness in his own culture (though this does him only occasional good where he finds himself), in contrast to Rand's innocence and naiveti. The major female character is a noblewoman of the land where he is shipwrecked; by the law, whatever is cast up on the shores of her estates belongs to her: the ship, its cargo -- its crew. Of course, a good many details will surely change between now and the commencement of writing (they always do), but that is the general form. No working title yet beyond SHIPWRECK. I expect to do the story in two or possibly three books. As far as any message to the folks on the net.... It is really quite an honour to find out that so many of you want to discuss my books in such detail. Frankly, I'm both pleased and amazed that you have put so much time and effort into it. Well, I hoped Iwas writing something that would hold people's interest; it seems maybe I have.

One thing -- don't think you've reached bottom in your digging. I tried to make the books fairly simple on the surface, and quite complex underneath. You've dug up a number of points that I thought I had buried well enough that they wouldn't come to light for some time yet (don't expect me to say which ones), and you've also dug up one or two that I never buried in the first place (no hints there, either). Jordan's Law, I think, can better be stated along these ~lines: "Ah, you think you know how the game goes now? Very good, gentlemen. what say we increase the bets just to make it interesting?".

End of letter.

Tom McCormick


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