Orbit meets ... ROBERT JORDAN, 2003Edit

With the Wheel of Time now reaching its tenth volume, is it becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of all the characters, plot-lines and back-story?

No, not really. Occasionally I have to look back to see exactly what I said in an earlier book, but the characters, plot-lines and back-story remain clear to me.

Is there a Wheel of Time story-bible locked away somewhere?

Yes. In my head.

What prompted you to return to the beginning of the story-arc for your next book New Spring?

First, Bob Silverberg asked me to do a short piece for an anthology entitle Legends, and the result was the novella New Spring. What I first mapped out to write, though, would have been much too long, so I had to revise extensively just to keep it down to novella length. Later, I happened to mention this to my publisher in the States, Tom Doherty of Tor Books, and he asked me whether I could expand the novella to the originally planned novel length. That wasn't really possible, but what I did was rewrite the novella to a considerable extent to make it what I originally wanted. And I was quite right about the length. As a novella, it was a little over 30,000 words. As a novel, the story is about 120,000 words.

Is this novel going to be a chance for new readers to sample the wonders of the Wheel of Time, or does the reader need some knowledge of the world already?

I wrote New Spring to be accessible to people with no knowledge of the world at all. Of course, people who do know the world will spot some things that others won't, and perhaps get a few answers to some of their questions. And they will get to see something that I have been asked about fairly often, the test for Aes Sedai.

What and who are the focus of the prequel?

The major focus of the prequel is on Moiraine Damodred and Lan Mandragoran. The main thrusts of the story are how and why Moiraine became part of the search for the Dragon Reborn and not only how but why Lan became her Warder, giving up his one-man war in the Blight.

Ezine understands you have two other side-novels planned, as well as continuing with further volumes in the epic saga. Will these also be prequels - can you give us any clues as to the content?

Basically, one of the two will tell how and why Tam al'Thor resigned his position as Second Captain of the Companions, the elite Illianer military unit, and returned to the Two Rivers to buy a farm. The second will reveal how and why Moiraine ended up in Emonds Field at just the right time in The Eye of the World.

And on the subject of clues ... are you prepared to give anything away from the plot of volume eleven?! Does it have a title yet?

No, Book Eleven has no title yet. I never have a title until I'm at least halfway through a book, and often not until near the end. As for clues ... Read and find out.

Are you surprised at just how successful the Wheel of Time has become?

Good God, yes! Every writer hopes for success, but it would take a bull-goose lunatic to actually expect this level of success.

How do you feel about being considered Tolkien's equal by so many critics?

Both grateful and uneasy. It is like being compared to Mozart as a composer. A part of you feels gratified at the ego-stroking, but the rest of you worries that you might begin to believe it. In high school, my football coach used to tell me that I could read the newspapers the day after a game and believe what they said about me for that whole day, but when I came out to the next practice, I had to believe that nobody had ever heard my name and the next game coming up would be the only chance I would ever have to make a reputation. I've tried to transfer that into my writing. What's past is past, and I have to try to make the next book better than anything I've ever done before.

And, finally ... This is sort of a variation of Desert Island Disks ... If you were caught up in a vortex and deposited in the world you have created...

--What sort of evil monster would do that to me, I wonder?--

...what three things would you take with you?

The best "barefoot doctor" manual I could find, the best manual I could find of industrial chemical processes of the 18th and 19th Centuries, and an M-14 rifle with a good scope and as much ammunition as I could carry. The first is for obvious reasons; unless you have access to an Aes Sedai, healthcare depends completely on how good your local Wise Woman is and whether you even have a local Wise Woman. Additionally, the ability to treat injury and illness is a good way to be accepted as a stranger in a strange land. The second would be a source of obtaining an income until I could find my way back here. The third also is for obvious reasons. That world is dangerous, boys and girls!

What would you do in your new home?

Spend most of my time trying to find a way back out of it. Do you remember the old Chinese curse, 'May you live in interesting times'? Well, that world is much too interesting for comfort.

And which novelist's next book would you most regret not having the chance to read?

John M. Ford, Arturo Peres-Reverte, Thomas Harris ... No, there are just too many to name.

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