Wednesday, November 10, 2010
This report by the Thirteenth Depository’s Old Salt contains spoilers in the questions, but not the answers.
First of all, some complaining. I was surprised at the choice of Lincoln Center B&N store as the venue for this signing. I personally would have held it at the B&N store on Union Square which has at least two and a half or three times the capacity for a signing as the Lincoln Center store. I think the evening would have gone smoother if there had been more room. As it was there was a huge amount of line standing, and many people were unable to attend the Q&A session and had to wait outside the small seating area of the Lincoln Center store. Last years signing for The Gathering Storm was a much more elaborate event, with raffles, trivia quizzes and the like, and a much bigger participation by Tor, yet it went much smoother because the signing hall was much bigger and everybody could fit in.
With that off my chest I can say I had a great time. Last year I was lucky enough to be chosen as a Storm Leader and was able to meet with all the principle players. Unfortunately, I also had to work the event, and was unable to relax as much as I was able to this time. Many of us former Storm Leaders got together for the signing and we had a great time discussing various theories, debating old and new WoT mysteries and generally reveling in our WoT nerdyness. We were all lucky enough to get inside the seating area, and in fact had front row seats for a nice question and answer session.
The full Team Jordan was there; Brandon Sanderson, Harriett McDougal, Maria Simmons and Alan Romanczuk. In addition Leigh Butler from the Tor site WoT read thru was in attendance. She wasn’t on the Q&A panel but did sign books. Both Brandon and Maria were wearing WoT themed articles. Brandon was sporting a nice black T shirt with the Blacksmiths’ puzzle chapter Icon, while Maria had on her signature RAFO hat and a nice dragon pin. Harriet started things off by reading from the Towers of Midnight prologue “Distinctions”, specifically Lan’s PoV at the start of the prologue. She did a great job and got good laughs with her reading of Lan’s obvious displeasure at Nynaeve’s “meddling”.
Brandon then opened up a short twenty minute Q&A session. I was studiously taking notes, and missed some parts of some of the questions but I got most of the answers, primarily because many were a one word answer…RAFO.
The first question was: “Do we see Verin anywhere in Towers of Midnight?” (here after referred to as ToM) Brandon laughed and said “I know what you are trying to do here” At which point the audience broke up. He went on to say “I’m pretty sure what you are trying to find out is the identity of Nakomi” much audience laughter again. Well the answer is “RAFO”. He went on to say that we would learn nothing more about Nakomi until A Memory of Light.
I then asked my question, given to me by my good friend Deadsy, who wanted to know if Rand still recited his List since his epiphany. Answer?---You guessed it---RAFO. Brandon went on to say that since we see so little of Rand onscreen in ToM, that he didn’t want to give away any of his inner feelings.
Then there was a question about the red veiled Aiel in the epilogue. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the full question, which I think was regarding their origin, but in any event the answer was RAFO.
The next question was “Do we see any effects of a 13 by 13 turning in ToM?” again the question was RAFO. Brandon then started to laugh and said “You are all batting 1000, I can’t answer that because it will seriously hint at things that happen in AMoL, and I don’t want to spoil if for you. Personally, I think he was channeling RJ at that point.
The next question was “Can Rand still channel the True Power since his epiphany?” answer: RAFO.
There was then a question about Mat and the Old Tongue in ToM. The questioner wanted to know why there wasn’t a specific “voice” as there had been in the older books. The answer basically came down to “In the older books Mat’s speaking of the Old Tongue was unconscious. However he is now conscious of when he is speaking it and the difference between the two has to be shown somehow. Brandon went on to say that all fantasy is actually a translation, and that as an author he is constantly aware of this. At first everything will seem odd but eventually it all gets smoothed out. Alan chimed in and said that the Old Tongue is highly idiomatic and fluid and what seems to be this Germanic Voice or some other actually isn’t because it is so idiomatic that one word may mean something here, but not the same thing somewhere else.
Then a question about Fain in the prologue. The questioner was worried that Fain seemed to be too much like Tolkien’s Gollum. Brandon’s answer was that he initially wrote Fain a lot saner but Harriet said “Oh no, Fain is MUCH crazier than this” So Brandon re-wrote him. Brandon went on to say that “yes, we realize this problem” and reassured us that there would be nothing like Gollum’s fate in AMoL.
There was then an interesting question about the writing process. “Do you find writing to RJ’s outline hard?” Brandon responded by saying that it was a lot more natural than he thought it would be. Primarily because they both outlined in a similar manner. He went on to explain that his process was to start off with an important scene, get that right and then go back and fill in the details and process that made the scene natural and necessary. RJ’s outlines were very similar, clearly delineate the important scenes and then go back and fill in the necessary details.
He went on to say that he was blessed with complete creative control, subject of course to the input of the rest of Team Jordan.
The next question was “Why do Mat, Perrin and Rand all stop the color swirls?”. Brandon said it was just their personalities. They were concentrating on what they each had to do and didn’t want to be distracted by the others. He went on to say “and there are times when they really don’t want to see what’s going on!” This was an obvious reference to the time Mat saw Rand and Min together in an intimate setting. It got a big laugh from all of us.
A question was asked if the outline for AMoL was done, partly done or not really started yet. Brandon thought for a minute and said that it’s partly done. He went on to say that he needs to completely reread the entire series again before he finishes the outline. He described the process with team Jordan as finishing a bit of the outline and then discussing it with TJ, sometimes he will throw out stuff that he knows are just brainstorming stuff, but the ideas will get kicked around and sometimes rejected outright, sometimes given back to him for more work and sometimes TJ will go “you know, this actually works quite well.” But he stressed that there is a lot of give and take in the creation of the outline.
Maria was asked ‘Can there be woman Ta’veren?” The answer was yes there can be, it was just that Ta’veren are rare and we just haven’t seen any.
Unfortunately that was the end of the time we had for Q&A, Brandon introduced some people in the audience, his wife Emily, the author Charlene Harris, his editor Moshe, (sp?) and Tom Doherty, the guiding hand behind Tor. They all got big hands, but Tom got a rousing round of applause and cheers. Last year as a Storm Leader, I got a chance to talk to Tom and found him not only an astute business man, highly knowledgeable of his field; but also imminently approachable and a great sense of humor.
We all then lined up to get our books signed. During my time at the table I asked two final questions:
“Are the red veiled Aiel a creation of Fain?” answer “I’m sorry but I’m going to have to RAFO all questions about the red veils” (As an aside I have hear of them described as “the scary teeth Aiel” which I think is a much better name!)
“In the prologue, while Fain is walking along, he is cutting his thumb on the dagger and the drops of blood give rise to the mist that eventually turns the Trollocs into the undead. Is his blood a necessary ingredient of that process?” Brandon thought for a minute and then said “I have to say no. Fain’s blood is not a necessary (and he stressed the word necessary) ingredient in the process.
I then grabbed my books, coat and other stuff, said goodbye to my fellow Storm Leaders and got on the subway for my long ride home, thinking about what a fun night I had.