MSN - eFriends Interviews Robert Jordan: November 11, 1998

This interview is copyright © 1998 by eFriends Inc.

We have Robert Jordan on the phone now. Let's see if RJ wants to say anything to begin. RJ?

RJ: Hi guys! Thanks for coming.

Robert Jordan is the best-selling author of THE PATH OF DAGGERS and other books in "The Wheel of Time" series.

Talisein says: When was the exact moment Mat would have been able to feel the dice in his head?

RJ: Tal, I'm not certain that I understand the question. There seems to be no context?

Talisein says: We first have the dice rolling around in Mat's head while he's gambling in Tar Valon. Some seem to think that the dice are an after affect of handling the dagger from Shador Logoth. So, I wanted to know if there was any credance to that idea ;)

RJ: Tal, read and find out....good question though.

Tijamilism says: I was wondering/hoping that Jordan might go on a book signing tour. and if so when and will it be in California?

RJ: Tij: Well....I've got good news and bad news. The good news is there is a tour...and I'm on it right now. The bad news is I was in California in the middle of October. Right after the book was published. All around San Diego, and LA, and SF and Sacramento. Sorry.

Tijamilism says: ACK!

jude74_ says: what U. did you attend?

RJ: Jude: The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

Tijamilism says: I love all the similarities between Frank Herberts DUNE and WOT . Was this intended? if so are you a fan of his?

RJ: Tij: No, there was no intention to make any similarities between Dune and my writings. And I am certainly a big fan of the original Dune novel. Although I doubt if I've read it since it first came out!

Jimbo3 says: How did you get the idea for the the Wheel of Time series?

RJ: jimbo: Well...the first thing I thought of was what would it REALLY be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to save mankind. And somehow or other I suspect it wouldn't be very much like anyone had said it was so far...and about the same time, I was wondering about the sources of myth. And why there are so many myths and legends that show striking similarities when they're paired with cultural references. Those two things are as clear to a starting point as I can show you. And they bounced around in the back of my head along with 40 odd years of reading everything I can get my hands on. History, Biography, Myth, Legend, Comparative Religion, Social Anthro, whatever I found. And out eventually came the Wheel of Time...but not until a number of years thinking about it.

K2 says: Robert - what's your take on society and the current level of technology available - do you feel people are becoming enslaved at the expense of more idle pursuits, such as reading/enjoying a good book?

RJ: K2: Well....I keep being told that all sorts of technology are going to overtake books, make books obsolete, but in fact sales of books go up year after year. And while I am a technofile of the first water, I have never found any technological device that could produce what a book does....That I could put several hours of entertainment with spectacular special fact, special effects as great as my mind was encompassing, a cast of perhaps hundreds or thousands, and no need of a power supply, and all of it would slip into my jacket pocket....and very easy to read to boot. No tiny screens, no glare from the sun on a page as it would be on a screen. Somehow I think books are in for the long run.

Lisa_SFF says: Are you the one that sets the pace of the books being published, or is there a "plan" behind the timing of when they come out?

RJ: Lisa: The books are published as fast as I can write them. In fact, in the beginning, you might say they were being published faster than I can write them! The normal lead time from ending a book to publication is 8 months to a year. My last 3 books have been published within 60 days of completion by me.

Lisa_SFF says: Really? I've been reading them since they came out, and the "delay" between the next ones seems to get longer...or maybe I read faster now (G).

RJ: That's why we now are out on a longer stretch between the books. But I do hope that the next one will come a little bit faster.

Jimbo3 says: Did you create Rand, Matt, and Perrin one at a time or all together?

RJ: Jimbo: One at a fact, when I first started thinking of what would turn into The Wheel of Time, Rand and his foster father were one character. Not a 50-ish man and his teenage foster son. But a man in his 30's who had run away from a quiet country village seeking adventure, had become a soldier, and now after 20 years of that, world weary and tired. Who has come home to his pastoral village seeking peace and quiet, only to find that the world and prophecy are hard on his heels. You can see that that's a much different character that what I ended up with when I started writing. I may actually use *him* someday.

jude74_ says: Do u have a set amount of books planned for the series and if so, how many?

RJ: Jude: No, I dont have a set amount of books planned. I believe it will take at least 3 more books to reach the ending that I have known for more than 15 years. I knew what I wanted to do in these books, what I wanted to say, and how it was all going to come out, before I ever started writing them.

jude74_ says: Wow! 15 years!

Tijamilism says: Mr. jordan, in another chat i heard you mention working on a book titled SHIP WRECK. Is that book still in the works?

RJ: Tij: Uh, Ship Wreck is in the works in the back of my head, where it's been for 5 or 6 years. It is in fact what I will be writing when I finish WOT....a different world, a different set of characters, a different universe, a different set of rules. But I don't expect to put anything on paper until I have finished's much easier to plan these things out in my head than to write them out on paper. Someone asked me where all of my critical path charts were for the plots, and I had to tell him they were in my head because they were too complex to put on paper charts, and the time necessary to put them into a computer would be approximately equivalent to put them into books. it's much simpler to keep it in my head.

FCT3000 says: RJ -- I know after COS (Crown of Swords) you said that you expected to go three more books to the end. After POD (Path of Daggers) you said the same. Do you find that the story is becoming harder to write or that there is more info to write?

RJ: Fct: No, it's neither harder, nor is there more simply has been that it is more, not more difficult, it is still difficult to get to the end. Remember, after COS I said at least 3 more books....the same thing I say now. Because everytime I reach a branching point and put down a major event, I cut off other possible paths to other major events. It means that certain things then are going to have to take place in a certain order and a certain way because the other branches of the logic tree are no longer available. But don't worry, guys, I really am getting there! I apologize for the length of time it's taking me, but I really am getting there.

Slayer says: I noticed how there are many similarities between the WOT and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Is this on purpose, or do great minds just think alike?

RJ: Slayer: Well, it's not on purpose, though I don't know about great minds. LOTR has more dissimilarities than similarities to my series. I have no elves, no unicorns, no dragons. Tolkien wrote from a distinctly English viewpoint and voice about myths and legends that came from England. I write in an American voice, in fact a distinctly southern voice, about myths and legends that come from every country represented by the population of the US. And then there's the role played by Women...there are only 2 women in LOTR....women tell half the story in WOT! There are other differences, and I sometimes find it hard to see the similarities.

Talisein says: You've said before that the reason Perrin wasn't in.. that one book, excuse my ignorance, was because he wasn't doing anything of importance besides running the Two Rivers. I hope I don't spoil anyone present when I note that Mat was not in The Path of Daggers. Was this because he was doing nothing of note, or you simply wanted to make us cry? ;)

RJ: Tal: C'mon guys....Mat had half a building fall on him! Give the man a little rest! If he's alive, which I will neither confirm or deny (I could probably do very well in Washington!)....but you don't have half a building fall on you without a few ill effects!

Talisein says: Hey, he IS ta'veren. The blocks could have formed a neat little cave around him.

RJ: Tal: That would be pushing the laws of coincidence, if you wish to call them that, a bit far. What a ta'veren does, remember, in effect, is unwittingly bend the laws of chance to favor himself, and to affect other lives. What would happen one time in a million without him there will happen because he IS there. But there really are limits

jude74_ says: Who is your favorite author in any writing field?

RJ: Jude: I'll have to give 6. John D. McDonald, Jane Austen, Louis L'Amour, Charles Dickens, Robert Heinlein, Mark Twain. And I also like the essays of Montaigne, a lot. Sorry they're all dead guys, but I don't read contemporary stuff! You asked for favs....

Slayer says: Do Min's viewings always predict the future, or do some tell about the past, mainly the 7 towers around Lan in The Eye of the World?

RJ: Slayer: Um, her viewings are always concerning the future.

highpockets says: Any hints on who killed Asmodean?

RJ: The Asmodean question? I've said time and again that there is enough evidence for you guys to figure out who killed Asmodean. I have, since Asmodean's death, put in a few more clues. The evidence is there, if not exactly listed with flaming arrows pointing to it. It should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer.

Tijamilism says: Not a question just a wish........Don't you dare plan to die before you finish..or as Nynieve woud say...we'll ring your neck

RJ: Tij: Well guys, I have no intention of dying if I can help it. Not now and not ever, if I can help it! So all I can say is, everyone look after my health! Especially since I've taken out an insurance policiy, you might say, just in case someone thinks that by knocking me over the head with a hammer to learn the ending! Upon my death, I've arranged for all of my hard drives to be reformatted 6 times, every bit of paper which mentions anything about the books will be burned! AND, there is a tidy sum set aside to pay for the removal of the knee caps of anyone who sharecrops in my universe after I am dead! So if you want to know how it ends, look after my health!

Stormy says: I've heard other authors say that they "get a character in their heads" and the character pretty much defines him/herself from that point forward. Would you agree with that point of view? That the character defines him/herself? And what you do is speak for that character?

RJ: Stormy: No, I would not agree with that at all. I think that writers who say that are doing one of two things. They are either being lazy and not paying attention to the procesees of their own brains, or they're pandering to those readers who would like to believe that the characters are independent entities. When it comes to my characters, I am not only a GOD, I am an old testament God, with my fist in the middle of their lives. They are as I wish them to be, they do what I wish them to do, they speak the words I put in their mouths. And that is ALL they may do.

Slayer says: Have you ever read Dragonsworn magazine?

RJ: Slayer: Dragonsworn? I don't believe I've ever seen it.

Slayer says: it is an online magazine, interesting reading, well put together

RJ: Slayer: There is a magazine called Dragonsworn? I would very much appreciate if anyone who has a copy would send it to me care of my publisher.

Slayer says:

jude74_ says: r u married?...children?....grandchildren?

RJ: Jude: I am married, to Harriet. Who is also my editor! And who, as everyone out there knows, is the source of at least one major characteristic of each of the major female charcters in the books. And one son, William, who is a graphic designer, artist, writer, who just quit his job at Sony because he was tired at being stifled, and I told him to go for it, for Gods' sakes.

Tijamilism says: Robert... When do you ever get a break? time for yourself? and how do you spend that time?

RJ: Generally, I work 10-12 hrs a day, 7 days a week....sometimes my wife will say to me, you're working too hard, go fishing, and sometimes I will. And sometimes she will say to me, I want you to see something on the porch, and when I go downstairs, there's a fishing guide waiting, and she tells me to go away and fish. (G) That's about it except for the occasional stops to fish when I'm traveling, there's too much to write and not enough years. She's a wonderful person, the empress of the known universe!

Jimbo3 says: Since you know the whole WOT series, how do you remember it all? Photomemory?

RJ: Jimbo: father had a photomemory, but I don't. All I have to work with is a good memory, and an IQ of 170 or so, it works out well enough.

Talisein says: Speaking of your wife reminded me. Are you planning on updating the telephone message thing at TOR after you're done with your tour? And what's that piano I hear in the background on the recording that's there now?

RJ: I don't know what the piano music is except that I generally play classical music when I am working. I listen to Jazz, Rock, Country, various music--Deco, all sorts of things when I am relaxing--but I have to work to Classical and since I changed the CDs out I really couldn't tell you what particular piece it is. And as for updating the message, I will. I am told that the subject was broached while I was still working on the book -- not to me-- and the question was raised as to whether it was better for me to spend time updating the message or to go ahead and work. Since even a ten minute break can mean an hour or more getting back into the flows and rhythms apparently the decision reached was don't bother the man!

Host Neil_SFF says: Let me thank Robert Jordan for being here this evening! I hope he can return even before his next book comes out!

RJ is gone and we were trying to type his final comments in but unfortunately the lag has confused things a bit. He basically said goodbye and thanked all for attending. And, good news! He's said he will visit again!

Note: if the link above does not work to retrieve an original source for the transcript, try this one, found at in the Wayback machine:

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