RJ recently gave a talk at Trinity College in Dublin. Our man on the Scene, Emmet O'Brien reports: Robert Jordan arrived at 6:00 this evening in Trinity College for his talk.. this being Ireland, the talk didn't start for a further ten minutes, but in the meantime he signed books for those of us who actually turned up on time. The turn out was pretty disappointing considering TFoH is no. 2 on the best-seller lists here: only about thirty people were there including SF society mafia. He didn't have any prepared speech but took questions from the floor. He still isn't sure how long WoT will go on for, saying probably seven books but adding that when TEotW first came out he saw the series as four books.. he does however know what the ending will be and how all the major story lines will resolve. He expressed vague dissatisfaction with the covers but didn't seem too upset about them.
He talked for a while about 'reverse engineering' various mythos, removing the culture-specific elements and combining the stories, giving the example of the Wolfbrother idea, which was derived partly from the Native American Coyote trickster/savior figure, of whom both Mat and Perrin reflect aspects.
He does not intend to speed up as the end of the series approaches: the books are planned to come out at the same rate until the end..
He raised the point that Rand's creeping insanity may manifest in much more subtle ways than the people of Randland expect.. which leads one to wonder about Rand's increasing withdrawal and possible megalomania.. I think he is aware of the net discussion: he expressed surprise at the amount of analysis and comparison with Tolkien, Dune etc. (I felt tempted to mention A. A. Milne) and somebody in the audience compared WoT to _Atlas Shrugged_, which really seemed to surprise him. His attitude is that once he has written one book (and publicized it) it is time to move on to the next..The only deliberate connection between WoT and any other modern fantasy was giving the first 100-odd pages of TEotW a Lord of the Rings-esque flavor, to start people off in familiar territory.
Specific questions: Lews Therin Telamon's suicide was emphatically _not_ balefire, but an overload of the Power. And when Verin was mentioned, he just said he hoped he kept surprising people.
His first Conan novel he wrote because there was money offered. Having discovered that it was fun to write Conan, he wrote five more including the novelization of the second movie, and then spent a year convincing people that he was not going to write any more Conan.. he was quite adamant on this point.
His first _novel_ was accepted and then rejected, sold and then rights reverted to him.. he says he will never publish it as it is not very good, but keeps it as it seems to be lucky for him..
He regards being taught to read at an early age and reading anything and everything he could get his hands on as being very important to his decision to write, and to what he writes and how he writes it.. he writes Fantasy because it allows more straightforward discussion of good and evil than fiction set in the modern world.
( I got the impression that learning to read at age three is considered precocious in the USA.. just another example of how far you colonials have fallen.. :-) )
He also spoke for quite some time on the splitting of the One Power into male and female halves, and on the disharmony produced when they don't work together.. this came across as one of the core elements in the origin of WoT. ( re: Yin/Yang - leaving out the little dots in the symbol is an intentional representation of the lack of harmony between male/female Power in RandLand )
That was about it.. a lot covered for half an hour. There was a strong impression that more of the books are made up as he goes along than a reading Of all the foreshadowing etc. might lead you to expect..A thought that occurred to me afterwards.. if at book one he expected to finish the series in three more books, and at book five he expects to take two more books, then logically the series should actually end up as thirteen books.. -Emmet
Speech at Trinity College in Dublin / Carolyn Fusinato