No sooner had Robert Jordan completed work on the latest volume in his epic Wheel of Time series than he started on book ten. Orbit grabbed him mid-way through the first draft to get the low-down on life with Rand and co…
What inspired you to write in the fantasy genre?
Some stories need to be told in certain genres, and fantasy allows the writer to explore good and evil, right and wrong, honour and duty without having to bow to the mainstream belief that all of these things are merely two sides of a coin. Good and evil exist, so do right and wrong. It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference, just as it can be difficult to know what is the proper thing to do, but it is worth making the effort.
Was there a single idea that inspired the Wheel of Time?
Not a single idea, but many, large and small, which coalesced. I wondered what it would really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to carry out a great mission, that this was your inevitable destiny no matter what you yourself wished. I was thinking about the source of legends, about how come must be real events distorted by the passage of time, and also about how similar many legends are between different and often distant cultures. There were many other things involved in this, but eventually they began to come together in my mind, and I saw the possibility of the story.
Do you think of the Wheel of Time as one very long novel, or as a series of separate novels?
To me, the Wheel of Time is one very long novel, with the individual books being sections of the novel. I try to provide a certain amount of resolution within each book, but a reader must begin with the first. It really isn't any more possible to pick up the newest book and begin there than it is to try beginning any other novel with only the last few chapters.
When you are writing, do you have a daily routine?
Yes. I read the newspapers over breakfast, lift weights or swim for half an hour, then go to my desk, in the carriage house in the garden, and answer the email, letters and telephone calls that simply must be answered. Then I begin writing. I usually spend at least eight hours a day writing, with a short break for lunch, and normally I do this seven days a week. Occasionally I will take a day to go fishing, but unless I am away from home, I usually find myself wondering why I am not back at my desk writing.
Which character in the Wheel of Time do you most identify with?
I always identify most with the character from whose point of view I am trying to write at that moment. I try to get inside their heads, inside their skins. Sometimes this has disadvantages. I have gone into the house at the end of the day and, before I can say a word, my wife has said to me, 'You were writing Padan Fain today, weren't you?' Inevitably, when she says this, I have indeed been writing some character you would not like to be alone with. But if you mean which character do I think is most like me, well, Lan Mandragoran expresses the ideals I was raised to aspire to, while Perrin is perhaps most like me as a boy and young man. On the other hand, my wife claims I am a perfect Loial!
Would you like to see the Wheel of Time made into a movie - or movies? If so, who would you like to see play Rand?
I would very much like to see the Wheel of Time made into a miniseries for television, perhaps by someone like HBO. They do very good work, and there would be no commercial interruptions. I don't think I would let one of the books be made into a movie. Such a movie would have to be at least five or six hours long, perhaps longer, just for one book, to maintain the coherence of the story, and movies of that sort aren't being made by anyone I know of. As to who should play Rand, I really don't know. How many good, young actors are there who happen to be six feet five inches tall?
Do you know how the Wheel of Time will end?
Oh, yes. I have known the last scene of the last book since before I began.