Waterford, CT CoT signing 17 January 2003 - report by JD Urbanski

report posted at

The following is from my recording and observations from meeting Robert Jordan at Walden Books, located in Waterford, CT on January 17, 2003. There were about 200 people waiting in line, and I was about 2/3 of the way in the line. The line was shaped like a horseshoe and I found myself directly opposite the entrance to Waldenbooks. A Waldenbooks employee was informing every new comer of the rules, "Mr. Jordan will sign only two books. They must be books from the Wheel of Time series. Mr. Jordan will not personalize. Mr. Jordan will sign only hardcover books." Somebody near me asked if the rpg books were okay. The employee left and came back to inform him that Jordan would sign the rpg books.

At around 6:00 Jordan stepped out of Waldenbooks with his cane and a slight limp. He looked around and announced, "There are too many people here, I'm going home." After the laughter subsided, he made a joke about being security's worst nightmare because, "I'm going to stand here and talk with you for a few minutes. Before I go and sign I'm going to answer questions a lot of people ask, that way you can ask something else and not waste time at the table.

"The Woman's name is Nynaeve. [laughter] Egwene, not Egween guys, Egwene It's Sai[like sigh]din, saidar, ter'angreal, Aes Sedai, Nynaeve, Avienda okay? Seanchan, Seanchan.

uhm..Who killed Asmodean? I'm still not going to tell you.[laughter]. Someone has sent me a logical chain reaction working out correctly who killed Asmodean using only the evidence that is in the books. [the next part is inaudible on my recording, but I remember him making refrence to two things. One he did not tell the person who submitted the explanation that they were correct, and two he just likes watching us squirm].

"How many more books will there be? There will be at least two more books. I apologize for that. I cannot finish it in fewer books. I will try to finish it in two more. I have known the last scene of the last book since 1984. I know where I'm going. The problem is.[my tape is once again inaudible and this was one of the few parts of his speech I could not hear, sorry gang].that's about it."

At this point Robert Jordan went into Waldenbooks and was about to sit down, but came back out again and said, "A lot of people ask when will the next book be released. I promise on my mother's grave the next book will be on the shelves in stores." At this point some punk kid walking by screamed, "YEAH! I DON'T EVEN READ YOU'RE DAMN BOOKS! YEAH!" So I could not hear the conclusion to Jordan's statement. But one of the employees walked over from where Jordan was standing towards my end of the line, so I called her over and asked her what the last part was. She said he finished by saying ".when I have finished writing it."

Once again Jordan left to go sign books, but came back out soon after saying that it was okay to take pictures of him, to have your picture taken with him, but under one rule, men can't take their clothes off. After this he really did begin the signing.

It took me about 30 minutes to get near to where Jordan was signing (the line moved really fast). I saw two people get their books signed before me. The first young man made a rude comment to Jordan as he walked off, saying, "See you in two years at the next book signing, if the book is out by then." But Jordan took it in stride and without comment turned his attention to the next person who asked him a question in a whisper, and he received a RAFO. The man seemed upset and asked, "what does that mean?" to which Jordan calmly answered, "It means I don't want to give away too much of the story." I handed my two books to his assistant, who got them ready to sign. I was a bit nervous, since the last two guys had been rather curt with Jordan, I wasn't sure if his mood would have soured. But he wasn't, in fact one of the things that impressed me the most, was that he was still in a jovial mood. I ended up asking two questions, but they are not story related, but his answers are interesting anyway.

I explained to him that I was writing my senior thesis for my B/A on the role of genre literature in the literary community. The first question I asked was what did Jordan feel the role of genre literature, especially fantasy, play in the literary community. He answered, "Well if you're talking about fantastical literature in particular, I .believe that Terry Pratchett summed it up best, but I'm not sure he's the.the actual originator of the comment. When we read fantastic literature, we are forced to believe in things that do not exist. It is a necessity for civilization that we have the capability to believe in things that do not exist. Because justice, mercy cannot be found with the most scientific instrument; they cannot be weighed on the finest scales. These are things that exist solely because we believe in them. They stop existing the moment we stop believing in them. So, by believing in things that don't exist, we prepare ourselves to believe in those that are necessary."

My second question was did he believe that genre books deserved to win the major literary prizes such as the Pulitzer or the Booker. Before I had finished Jordan began, "Of course, of course. But you'll notice that some books that.that are fantasy are not called fantasy. Laura Lessing writes fantasy. A.S. Byatt writes fantasy. [inaudible name] is fantasy, writes fantasy. The magical realists write fantasy. If you write and deny that you write fantasy then you're acceptable for a major award and/or the accolades of the critics. If you say that you write fantasy, then you've marked yourself as living in the ghetto. So, I write fantasy and I wear my ghetto tattoos proudly."

During our conversation Jordan stopped in mid signing to ponder my questions and when he answered he looked me straight in the eye. After the second question he seemed to be waiting for another question, and while I did have more ready, I figured I had held his line up long enough and simply thanked him for his comments. So, overall I must say that Jordan really impressed me with his presence, but I was disappointed that we didn't have a general Q&A session that the other tour reporters have mentioned. It was worth waiting to meet him and if you can make it to a signing I suggest you do so.

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