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Source:Second AOL Chat, October 1994

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OnlineHost: Your host for tonight is CSEmcee1 (Norma II).

OnlineHost: Robert Jordan is a lifelong resident of Charleston, SC who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and received a degree in physics from The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina.

When a injury sidelined him from a career as a nuclear engineer for the Navy more than a dozen years ago, he became a voracious reader, and the frustration with the quality of fiction he was reading drove him to begin writing himself.

An avid history buff, Jordan is particularly interested in military history, and Charleston's past. He and his wife live in the Old HistoricDistrict of Charleston. The outdoorsman enjoys hunting, fishing, and sailing, and the indoor games of poker, chess and pool.

Why are Jordan's books so popular? Look at the phenomenon of epic fantasy itself. When Tolkien's novels burst on the scene in the '60s, the fantasy genre was virtually unheard of. But his stories of hobbits and dark evils caught on. Without question THE LORD OF THE RINGS is nothing less than amazing.

Countless readers fell in love with the chronicles of Tolkien's Middle Earth, and responded to it on a level that transcends mere entertainment. Then came Jordan. And with him, another popular cultural phenomenon - THE WHEEL OF TIME!

Lest his fans despair, he wants them to know that even when he's on the road during is current tour, he is hard at work on his seventh (yet untitled) volume of THE WHEEL OF TIME. America Online is pleased to present perhaps the most-discussed author on the Internet, Robert Jordan!

CSEmcee1: Good evening and welcome to the Globe, Mr. Jordan!

RJ: Good evening and thank you for having me!

Question: How many books will the Wheel of Time series be?

RJ: As many as it takes to reach the last scene, which has been in my head since the very beginning. And not a book more. Sorry.

Question: Whats it like to write a protagonist who frankly is batty? How do you balance likability with fading competence?

RJ: I just try to do it in the book the way I do it in real life.

Question: Mr. Jordan, are there any fantasy writers, beside yourself, that interest you?

RJ: It's a moderately long list, but ... Tad Williams, Holdstock, Ray Feist, Janny Wurts, Barry Hughart, C. S. Friedman, and really that's just the beginning, the ones that come off the top of my head.

Question: How soon can we expect Lord of Chaos to come out paperback?

RJ: About a year.

Question: What was the primary driving force behind your world (other than making lots of money)?

RJ: The driving force was creating a world populated by cultures that seemed real, but alien-- as in other.

Question: Who is your favorite of the Wheel characters?

RJ: The one I'm writing at the moment, whichever one that to be.

Question: What went on with Egwene, Mat and Fain in the dungeon The Great Hunt?

RJ: Most of it is fairly obvious, I would think. For the rest, you'll have to read and find out.

Comment: Interesting parallels between your life and Heinlein who also turned to writing after illness forced him from a military career. Mr. Jordan, how did you became interested in writing??

RJ: I was reading Mark Twain. I was five years old, and I wanted to make stories like that.

Question: how many books will there be in Wheel of Time?

RJ: Several more. I did answer this earlier.

Question: Who if any are Mr. Jordan's favorite authors?

RJ: Tad Williams, Robert Holdstock, Ray Feist, Janny Wurts, C. S. Friedman, Barry Hughart, and we'll cut it off there before it gets too long.

RJ: I assume the last question meant in the fantasy, because my favorite authors overall are Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen.

Question: How many books are in your current series?

RJ: Perhaps we should put "how many books" on the front door of the conference. Several more.

Question: What other fields of literature are you interested in?

RJ: Just about everything except gothic novels and nurse stories.


Question: Where did you get the concept for Perrin?

RJ: Out of my head.

Question: Do you plan on any computer or video games based on the Wheel of Time?

RJ: That really depends on the companies that manufacture such things. There has been some interest. We will see what we will see.

Question: How long did it take you to come up with the world for the Wheel of Time?

RJ: About ten to twelve years.

Question: Are you going to write about the age of Legends?

RJ: No.

Question: When will your next book be out?

RJ: In a year, if everything goes all right.

Question: how do wise ones get gai'shan? (they don't fight, right?)

RJ: They can be traded, though. Besides which, there are other ways, if you read Lord of Chaos, to become gai'shain.

Question: What was your inspiration for this series? Anything specific?

RJ: I suppose the question of what it would really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you were born to be the savior of mankind. Beyond that, two or three hundred things.

Question: Could Aviendha be pregnant...enquiring minds want to know!

RJ: Enquiring minds can read and find out.

Question: Have you written any books previous to the Wheel of Time set?

RJ: Yes.

Question: How did you initially break into fantasy writing? It seems like you've come from no where to suddenly be on top of the market.

RJ: I'm just another twenty-year overnight success.

Question: I lived in Charleston during Hugo--has that influenced you or the story in any way?

RJ: I don't think your presence influenced me at all! As for the storm, it didn't influence me either, except that I have noticed sometimes, when the wind gets high, I climb up on the roof for no particular reason.

Question: You have written in many Genre, but fantasy seems to be your most proliferate. The Conan and Wheel of Time are the most popular, it would seem. What do you attribute this too?

RJ: Good genes.

Question: have you ever thought about writing about a renegade hacker?

RJ: No, and remember, I own guns.


Question: I was wondering if you could comment on some of the clues that Randland (as we call it) seems to be written as a future earth

RJ: Time is a wheel. If you look in one direction, you are looking at the past. If you just turn around and look in the other direction, you are looking at the future. The books are set in our future and in our past, depending on which way you look.

Question: Your perspective on Shannon Miller

RJ: Do you mean Shannon Faulkner? [no response]

Question: Mr. Jordan, who is your favorite character in Wheel of Time? Who do you relate to most as a person?

RJ: My favorite character, and the one I relate to most, is the one about whom I am writing at whichever moment I happen to be writing.

Question: Are your Arthurian legend parallels intended or were they written in and only realized afterwards?

RJ: They were intended.

Question: Are you going to continue writing fantasy after the Wheel of Time and Shipwreck series are over?

RJ: Yes.

Comment: Mr. Jordan, your work is purely exceptional.

Question: Do you do much research once you begin writing? What type of things do you research?

RJ: Yes, because I need to research things like the details of exactly how a blacksmith works. For example.

Question: So how many books do you THINK are left in the series, at this point?

RJ: As many as it takes to reach the end, and not one more.

Question: Do you ever let compassion for a character affect or influence plot development?

RJ: Never.


Question: Are the men and women ever going to understand each other? I don't see the characters growing much that way.

RJ: They're going to try. We'll see how far they get. I've spent forty-odd years trying myself, and I'm not certain how far I've gotten.


Question: When did you first develop the idea for Wheel of Time? How long have you been working on it before it was accepted by a publisher?

RJ: The very first notion came to me nearly twenty years ago; I spent ten or twelve years mulling it over, told my then-publisher about it, and he offered me a contract.

Question: Why is Myrelle so heartless. she nearly let Lan die. Why?

RJ: She's dealing with a man capable of taking her head off before even she could blink and a man who's in a mental state where she can't be sure he won't.

Question: Are you considering chronicling the latter part of the Age of Legends?

RJ: No.


Comment: I was pleased to see Lord of Chaos appearing as a new bestseller in today's USA Today bestsellers list.

RJ: Thank you.

Question: Mr. Jordan, I think your series is wonderful! Do you have any plans for a new series?

RJ: New series: yes, but not until the Wheel is done.

Question: Your style of writing is so simple, yet so complex that it is a genre all it's own. Will Moiraine come back from the dead since Lanfear and Asmodean apparently have?

RJ: Read and find out -- in fact, I really suggest you read and find out.

Question: You've lived in Charleston all your life. Is there anything here that's affected your novels?

RJ: Trying to call them "palmetto bugs" so as not to terrify the tourists has nearly driven me batty. That's about it.

Question: Not that I'm complaining, but could you write the books faster? I'm dying here.

RJ: No, I can't write the bloody things any faster, and if I find out where you live, I will send my friends Little Guido and and Harry the Nail around to talk to you.

Question: Is Aran'gar really Lanfear? If she is, how did she come back?

RJ: Read And Find Out.

Question: Exactly how tall is Rand?

RJ: Six foot five to six foot six.

Question: Your plots are so detailed and intricate- do you ever get confused about what should happen when?

RJ: No.

Question: Why was Perrin not in The Fires of Heaven?

RJ: He had a lot of things to do back home, and they were all pretty boring.

Question: Mr. Jordan, Are you aware of the interest that has risen on the internet and here on AOL about your books?

RJ: Yes.

Question: What is Padan Fain's overall role in the Wheel Of Time (besides hating Rand with a passion)?

RJ: Read and find out ... except you should be able to figure out most of it by now. Think a little bit -- it's all there, really.

Comment: Your an amazing author! If only everyone else in the world was like you, then the world might be a better place.

RJ: How true, how true.

Question: What can you tell us about Kari al'Thor? Where was she from, etc.

RJ: About Kari al'Thor: you're going to have to read on to find out beyond what's already in the books.

Question: What other books have you written under your other pen names?

RJ: A number, in other genres, and they're all out of print at the moment.

Question: What is your opinion of the cover art?

RJ: I know that the covers are a hot topic for discussion, pro and con. I'd like to point out that I have had no end of letters saying that the reason they first picked up one of the books was the cover.

Question: Are you going to write any other books for different series?

RJ: Certainly not until I finish this one.

Question: Mr.Jordan are you willing to do lectures at colleges and universities?

RJ: Depending entirely on whether I have time, which I seldom do, unfortunately.

Question: Do you follow any of the AOL discussions of your writings?

RJ: Only when someone downloads and sends hard-copy to me.

Question: From what sources did you develop the concept of Wolfbrothers and the "powers" Perrin has developed in the series?

RJ: Any number of myths from Europe, North American Indians, and the Australian aborigines.

Question: Is there any symbolism or "deeper meaning" behind this series?

RJ: There are layers, certainly, but I don't know about deeper meaning.

Question: Did you intend to have an extreme tone of Arthurian/Biblical references?

RJ: Do I have an extreme tone of same? I thought it was a mild tone of same.

Question: Am I seeing things that aren't there, or are there several references to the Arthurian Legends in the Wheel of Time?

RJ: Yes, there are. Among many others. The Arthurian legend is the most recognizable in the United States. The others are much less so and you don't pick them out as easily.

Comment: I work in a bookstore, and I can testify that your books are very popular in Kentucky. I am looking forward to finishing the series. Were you surprised at the huge following that have become almost obsessed with Wheel of Time?

RJ: Yes, very much.

Question: Does living in such an old and unique house aid you in coming up with ideas?

RJ: No.

Question: Do you have any interest in establishing a board to interact with fans ala R. Feist?

RJ: If I did, I'd never get any writing done.

Question: Can you tell us something of how you go about keeping track of such a complex world and so many characters?

RJ: Not without unzipping my head with a can opener.

Question: How did you develop the female characters in your series? They are a strength to the series, and are interesting because they seem to contain genuinely "feminine" thought patterns?

RJ: I spent forty-odd years listening to women, and besides that, they're all based on my wife.

Question: I hear your next book is "The Wheel of Shogun". Is this true?

RJ: Not exactly.

Question: Can we expect the introduction of any new, major characters?

RJ: Read and Find Out!

Question: How hard do you find it to integrate all the subplots and characters? I find that your books are much more sophisticated plot-wise than any of the other fantasy/sci-fi books that I've read.

RJ: I don't know how hard it is; I just do it.

Question: Any plans for a leather-bound copy of Lord of Chaos?

RJ: Yes, it's coming.

Question: What exactly is Padan Fain?

RJ: Read & Find Out.

Question: Having just finished The Fires of Heaven I must say that I am greatly distressed by the absence of The Wolf ... Perrin. So what's happened to him?

RJ: He will turn up again eventually. Read on.

Question: Is there something you've learned since, that you would now change in your first book?

RJ: No.

Question: Is Moraine really dead?

RJ: Read and find...out.

Question: Will you write any books about characters from the distant past, such as Artur Hawkwing?

RJ: No.

Question: I was curious about your attitude towards women. They have a strong (Aes Sedai for instance) presence in your books. I am glad you break the stereotype of 'women in chains needs Conan type to help her. When you get writers block. What do you do to get it back into form?

RJ: I've never had writer's block -- but I've sometimes had caps lock.

Question: Will what happened to Asmodean be explained in Lord of Chaos?

RJ: Read and find out


Question: Hate to ask but how many volumes total in the Wheel of Time series can we expect (I don't really want it to end)?

RJ: Several more. That's as close as I can come.

Question: Do you have any "defined" plans for your writing career after you finish Wheel of Time?

RJ: Just as far as some ideas for the next book.

Question: If you could work with any of the writers you named, who would you choose?

RJ: None of them. I work by myself. I don't see how to work with someone else, really.

Question: Any chance of your books becoming movies?

RJ: Not under my control.

Question: Robert, in just about every story that I have read, good reigns supreme. Yet, wouldn't it be interesting if evil made just a little more headway than usual?

RJ: I think that's usually what happens in what we call a "story."

Question: What is there to Lan's brother Isam, in the Waste? Is he a Darkfriend, or more?

RJ: Read and find out.

Question: How did the White Tower form after the Breaking?

RJ: Aes Sedai slowly got together.

Question: Was there anyone that helped you develop the characters?

RJ: No.

Question: Why Fantasy as a genre?

RJ: Why a duck? Why not a duck?

Question: I would like to become a writer in the future. How do you suggest I get started?

RJ: By writing.

Question: Are you ever going to expand the existing map and perhaps open up the lands east of the Spine of the World?

RJ: There are no known maps of the Aiel Waste. That has been established.

Question: If Rand's mother isn't Aiel, was she formerly Queen of Andor?

RJ: Read and find out!

Question: Why is Perrin's horse in Lord of Chaos called Slayer and not Stepper?

RJ: Because it's a different horse.

Question: Do you play any role-playing games? What are your hobbies?

RJ: My hobbies are listed on the dust jacket; they're too many to list here. One last question?

Question: I'm sorry. How long after publishing The Eye of the World did you recognize the extent of the popularity of your book, and did you know at that time that the "World" would grow to such a great proportion (i.e., that you'd have written this many books)?

RJ: I never expected anything like this, and I really don't know how long it took me to realize that the books were very popular. It rather crept up on me.

OnlineHost : All good things must come to an end! Time has run out for this event! CSEmcee1: It has been a pleasure having you with us tonight, Mr. Jordan.

RJ: Thanks for coming, everybody.

CSEmcee1: Thanks to you audience for stopping by tonight! Good evening, everyone!


http://web.archive.org/web/20030405221607/www.princeton.edu/~abergman/jordan/chat2.txt

or http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan/msg/fa3a418f3e9e0076

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