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I have been getting a lot of email—a LOT—these last few weeks. As I've said, I really appreciate it when people write me, and the overwhelming majority of it has been positive. I've been getting a number of questions over and over, however, and thought I'd better begin a FAQ to go in hand with the interview over at Dragonmount.
I'll will probably expand this as the months pass. I've answered some of these already, and others are obvious. My goal is to make this comprehensive (eventually). Once I have time, I will try to put this in html with all the questions at the top linked to answers below.
Q: What is A MEMORY OF LIGHT?
A: A MEMORY OF LIGHT is the twelfth and final volume of Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. Mr. Jordan passed away earlier this year, but left notes and instructions regarding the completion of this final volume.
Q: So is it going to be your book or Robert Jordan's book?
A: There is no question: It will be Robert Jordan's book. The notes he left behind are very detailed, particularly with regards to the most important scenes of the book. I will be following his outline with exactness, and including as much of his actual written prose as I can, changing as little as possible.
Q: Will your name be on the cover?
A: Both names will be on the cover, but the focus will—and should be—on Mr. Jordan's name.
Q: Will you tell me specifically which parts you are writing and which parts he wrote?
A: Maybe someday, once the book has been published. For now, however, I think that doing so would be counter-productive. The last thing we want is for people to read this book and instead of enjoying Mr. Jordan's vision and story, spend their time picking apart which pieces were his and which are mine. I suggest that you not worry about this issue at the moment, but instead simply read and enjoy the book when it comes out. There will be time for analysis later.
Q: Is the book going to be as good as it would have been if Mr. Jordan had written it?
A: I have to be honest. I'm not Mr. Jordan. He's the master, and I'm just a journeyman. He's one of the greatest fantasy authors the genre has ever known. I can't hope to write with his skill and power at this stage in my career—and I think there are very, very few writers who could.
Fortunately, I don't have to do this on my own. I have seen the notes, as I mentioned above, and I find them very reassuring. Let me put forth a metaphor for you.
Pretend you have purchased an expensive violin from a master craftsman. It probably wouldn't surprise you to discover that one of the craftsman's apprentices helped create that violin. The master may have had the apprentice sand, or apply varnish, or perhaps shape some of the less important pieces of wood. In fact, if you looked at the violin before master craftsman handed it off to his apprentice, it might just look like a pile of wood to you, and not an instrument at all.
However, the master craftsman did the most important parts. He shaped the heart of the violin, crafting the pieces which would produce the beautiful sound. He came up with the design for the violin, as well as the procedures and processes used in creating his violins. It's not surprising that some other hands were involved in the busywork of following those procedures and designs, once the most important work was done. And so, even though the apprentice helped, the violin can proudly bear the master's signature and stamp.
It's the same with this book. What I've been given may not look like a novel to you, but it excites me because I can see the book Mr. Jordan was creating. All of the important chunks are there in such detail that I feel like I've read the completed novel, and not just an outline. Yes, there is still quite a bit of work to be done. Many of the less important scenes are there only as a framework of a few sentences. However, Mr. Jordan left behind the design of this book. I am convinced that between myself, his wife (who was his editor), and his assistants, we can complete this book to be very, very close to the way he would have done.
Q: Will it be one book or will you split it into two? I heard that this book would be really big, and that it might have to be cut into two chunks.
A: It will be one book. Mr. Jordan wanted it that way. I am certain from what I've seen that we will be able to complete the novel in a way that it will be published as one volume.
Q: What will this do to the release schedule of your own books?
A: You shouldn't notice much of a difference. I've already got my next two Tor books and my next two Scholastic books finished. They will each continue to come out at a rate of one a year in 2008 and 2009. I will have to work hard in 2009 to finish new books for 2010, but I'm confident I can manage it. Keep an eye on my website and I will post updates.
Q: Are you going to tell us who killed Asmodean?
A: Mr. Jordan's books are particularly special in that they don't always tie up every loose end, but instead leave some things for the reader to imagine and decide for themselves. Originally, as I understand it, Mr. Jordan was not intending to ever reveal Asmodean's killer, as he believed that the books were explicit enough for one to figure it out on one's own.
However, as the years progressed, Mr. Jordan evidently grew to understand just how much this question was bothering his readers. Recently, he had promised that he would—indeed—find a way to explain Asmodean's death in AMoL. He left behind notes regarding this mystery, and Harriet and I have determined a place in the book where we feel it would work to answer this question. So, yes, I will tell you who killed Asmodean.
Q: What other secrets are you going to reveal? Which plot points are you going to tie up?
A: This is one of the reasons that reading the material made me feel so relieved. While there are huge chunks that I need to write, there is always an explanation of what needs to be revealed, and what needs to be left for the reader to decide on their own. I will not be making any of these decisions on my own, but will instead be following Mr. Jordan's wishes regarding the plotting.
He ties up some very important plot points. Others, he leaves without explicit explanation. That was his way, and is one of the things that makes these books so wonderful. You don't need to worry, then, that I will try to explain too much or that I will leave out too much. I will do as the master instructed.
Q: Can you tell me anything of what happens in the book?
A: One of Mr. Jordan's favorite phrases was "Read and Find Out." I'll leave it at that. (Besides, I signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I contractually CAN'T tell you anything. Sorry!)
Q: I'm not familiar with your own books. Can you suggest a place to start?
A: I include an answer to this one because I have been asked it quite a few times in emails. A MEMORY OF LIGHT isn't about me, but about Mr. Jordan's legacy and about the fans.
However, it does flatter me that people are interested in my books. I would suggest reading MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE. It's the first in my epic fantasy trilogy, and is out in paperback right now. It stands alone as a single volume and story, should you simply want to read one book by me. You should be able to find it at most bookstores.
Another option is WARBREAKER, the book I've released on my website—however, I hesitate to suggest this one, since you need to know that it's only a draft. There are still a lot of problems with it, as it is a work in progress.
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