Saturday, March 9, 2002

RJ's Blog Posts Pre Knife of Dreams

This article contains copies of RJ’s blog posts up until Knife of Dreams was published.

AND ONE MORE TIME - October 6th, 2005

This may be the last post until after the tour, I'm afraid. We leave for NY early on Saturday, and that means tomorrow will be busy. There aren't only preps for the trip, there is the matter of getting things ready here for us to be away for a month. And there is this huge stack of bookplates that I have to finish signing for Time Warner (UK). At least they didn't do what they did the first time I agreed to sign bookplates. They sent me a carton with about 10,000 of the things, rough count. Good God! I think I ended up signing 500-1000. There just wasn't time. But there's never enough time, is there?

Now as to how I chose questions and why some of them don't come from the blog comments. First off, I pick up on things among the comments that look interesting at the moment. Also, I pick up questions from some of the fan sites when I'm drifting about lurking and see an interesting thread title. Wotmania has set up sections where people discuss what questions to ask and whether some questions should be avoided, and that makes it very easy to find more questions. That is why so many wotmaniacs are getting answers. Of course, the volume of questions means that even some that I originally chose out failed to make the cut in the end. At one point I had over sixty pages of printout listing questions. The list was growing faster than I could answer. I'm really sorry about that, guys.


For kcf, I knew your deus ex machina comment was humorous. Don't worry so much. Chill, man. Or girl, if that be the case.

For Anonymous - Carter, you won't take over too much of my time. As I have said before, once I return from the tour, it is back to full days writing, which means maybe an hour a week of lurking, and I will be doing no more than one post to the blog a week. Almost certainly not as long as this one, I'm afraid, but I think you'd rather have the book in a reasonable length of time. I hope that will be enough to keep you all satisfied after I've gone on this recent splurge. As to how I find time for everything including daily life, there is Harriet, and a housekeeper who does the shopping and dry cleaner runs and the like, Harriet's assistant Stuart who helps keep her head above water, and my assistant Maria who does the same for me. And then there is Kelly, the handyman, for heavy lifting. All together, they leave most of my time free for writing. I'm ashamed to admit that I go to the grocery store so seldom now that about every second visit I have to ask where to find items.

For Deadsy, you want to know what I wear when I'm writing? If I worked out in the morning, I may wear my sweats all day. If not, then it's a shirt, trousers and suspenders. Oh, yes, and shoes and socks. Thought you'd found a sneaky way to an answer to your "boxers or briefs" didn't you?

For Desiree, part of yours, about continuing the blog, is answered above. The criteria for rising among the Forsaken boils down to a combination of effectiveness and ruthlessness. Asmodean may have held few field commands, but he was quite effective as a governor and administrator. Even the Shadow needs those.

For John Lynch and a number of posters at Dragonmount, what Moiraine made the woman drink in New Spring was not poison. The woman intended to drug Moiraine in order to rob her, including of her clothes. And, of course, leave her to the nonexistent mercies of the patrons. Instead, Moiraine made her drink the drugged drink herself. And left her to the nonexistent mercies of her own patrons.

For Ben, I'm glad you have a school-sanctioned WoT club at Alfred. (I do use WoT once in a while. Sometimes, though, it just seems to me that it should be tWoT. No big deal either way.) As an aside, my goddaughter, Jessica Jones, got her degree in ceramics from Alfred. You might be able to find out a little about her there. After she left and studied at Xian (I hope I have the spelling right), she began being referred to as Jones of China. She studied with a man who had been designated a "living treasure" by the government, and she was the only non-Chinese ceramist invited to display her work in a national show just before she came home.

For Sidious and various others, my comments about arrangements in case of my death (burning the notes, doing triple Guttman wipes on the hard drives, etc.) were mainly a defense against any fans who became so frantic to see the end that they thought knocking me off might result in somebody else finishing the books faster.

For Lord of Salvation, I'm sorry to hear that you had to become a refugee. I hope you plan on returning to help rebuild. My brother teaches at West Jefferson High School. Also, Moiraine did enter the Rhuidean doorframe ter'angreal. That's the one that caught fire and melted after she and Lanfear passed through together. Berelain certainly knows of the Tear doorframe, but she has never entered it.

For jofraz, I have gay and Lesbian characters in my books, but the only time it has really come into the open is with the Aes Sedai because I haven't been inside the heads of any other characters who are either gay or bi. For the most part, in this world such things are taken as a matter of course. Remember, Cadsuane is surprised that Shalon and Ailil were so hot to hide that they had been sharing a bed even knowing how prim and proper Cairhienin are on the surface. Well, for many it is just on the surface.

For Packersfan52, I never laugh at how lame anyone's conclusion is. Except for yours, of course. Just kidding. Bet I made you flinch, though.

For the ever-popular Anonymous, Fain might be said to be contagious in the sense that he corrupts those he is around long enough, but not in the sense that they then have something communicable. As for his influence over people, remember that Fain is now an amalgam of Fain and Mordeth, and Mordeth was a counselor, quite accustomed to and skilled in gaining the ears of the mighty. And yes, Amico Nagoyin was Yellow, and Berylla Naron Blue.

For MJJ Sedai, Harriet is not a Valkyrie. Oh, no. When she isn't being Copper Calhoun, the Dragon Lady or Wonder Woman, she is the mysterious, dark-clad woman who steps out of the shadows to put a hand on Wonder Woman's shoulder and say, "I don't think so. Now run home to that silly island, girl." And Wonder Woman runs. It would still be a suicide mission, though.

Oh, yes, just to settle an argument that seems to be ongoing, Egwene saw a bat, guys. After Falme, she could recognize the long sweeping wingstrokes of a raken or to'raken, and she knows a bat when she sees one. Bats really do flutter, to confirm those who have pointed this out.

For Rory, I really don't think that I'll do any novels, short or otherwise, about the War of the Shadow. The outcome is already known, and it ain't good for our side. As for coming to Australia, you'll have to get onto the Australian publisher and bombard them with requests for me. I've been to Oz twice since the books began, both times at the behest of the publisher, though we added some vacation to the business. As an aside, I almost was born in Australia. My father liked Australia so much that my parents planned to emigrate after WWII, but my mother became pregnant with me, and she was concerned about emigrating under those circumstances -- I believe wartime rationing was still in effect in Oz -- so one way and another the move never happened. But almost.

I see there has been a question on wotmania about whether there are more male or female readers. I don't know how it runs in the States, though attendance at my signings seems roughly equal, but I do have a fairly good idea about Britain. My British publisher commissioned a survey to identify my readership so they would know where to put advertising. The study said that my readership matched the demographic of Britain within the margin of error for the survey as to age level, income level, educational level, political party belonged to, newspaper read, magazines read, area of the country lived in...and gender. It was, in the words of the managing director, an ice cream scoop taken out of Britain.

For Desiree, the next project on the table is book twelve. The prequels will be waiting until some future time. I don't know when, exactly.

For JustAnotherGreensWarder, Slayer's choices are limited to Isam and Luc.

For Anonymous-George, long ago I saw one of the first, I believe, novels about a young woman who wasn't allowed to use magic or whatever because she was a woman, and the thought occurred to me as to how it might go if men were the ones who were denied the right to do magic. Or whatever. I hate using the word magic. From that long ago thought grew the One Power divided into saidin and saidar with the male half tainted and the reasons for and results of it being tainted. Now in most of these societies -- Far Madding is the obvious exception -- I did not and do not view them as matriarchal. I attempted to design societies that were as near gender balanced as to rights, responsibilities and power as I could manage. It doesn't all work perfectly. People have bellybuttons. If you want to see someone who always behaves logically, never tells small lies or conceals the truth in order to put the best face for themselves on events, and never, ever tries to take advantage of any situation whatsoever, then look for somebody without a bellybutton. The real surprise to me was that while I was designing these gender balanced societies, people were seeing matriarchies.

For Phil Reborn, the wind that makes Rand almost impale himself on Lan's practice sword was one of the first bubbles of evil. A tiny one, but still dangerous.

For Anonymous -- not George, I think -- when I started writing, I knew the beginning, the end, and the major events I wanted to happen along the way. Some of those major, to me, events were as simple as two people meet and the courses of their lives being diverted in different directions by that meeting, but others were as large as Rand being kidnapped and his rescue/escape at Dumai's Wells. How to get from one major event to another I have always left until I was actually writing. I would pick out the major events I wanted to put into a book, start figuring out how I could get from one to the next -- without their order necessarily being fixed -- and see what I could some up with. Usually, I had to leave a few of the major events out of the book I originally thought I could put them into, one reason what I had thought would be five or six books turned into twelve. And thank you for realizing that I don't think my readers are idiots. I've never thought I had to tell the reader every last detail for them to figure out what was going on.

Well, that's it for today, guys. I'll try to get in another post tomorrow, but no promises.

Take care, everybody.

All my best,

YET ANOTHER, IT SEEMS - October 5th, 2005

If I seem to be posting a lot, it's because the tour is coming up. I want to get in some of these things before I go away and the blog goes on hiatus. We'll be flying to New York on Saturday to take care of some business before the tour begins, on Tuesday. I'm a little worried about the first signing, I'll admit. I know I can pull a good evening crowd in NYC; I've done it before. But 12:30 on a Tuesday? That's the slot where they put politicians, movies stars and celebrities. Yes, I'm a little concerned.

I will try to post again tomorrow or Friday, but I can't guarantee. We've been housing relatives from New Orleans, you see. My younger brother Reynolds has already gone back and begun teaching high school again, and his son Rey, a NO cop who was at the precinct they dubbed Fort Apache until he was told off to drive a sick officer to Shreveport for medical aid, has also returned to duty after fighting off bronchitis. Rey's wife Heather, who has a masters in disaster relief management, is hoping to head back today or tomorrow with infant son David, while Reynolds' wife Barbara Gay will be heading back tomorrow or the next day with son Jim III. Can you spell hectic? I knew that you could.

Well, let's get on with it. By the way, I don't favor women in my answers. I just answer what seem like interesting questions where answering won't give away too much.

For Flavius who is not Flavion, my apologies. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Hey, it always worked with the vicar.

For Matrimoni Cauthon, Rand gets only the same benefits as he got from being bonded to one Aes Sedai. It neither multiplies nor divides. Each of a Green's Warders get the same amount of benefits as the single Warder of another sister.

For Child of Lir, peaches being poisonous in the world of tWoT is one of the things I did to make the world different. Though peach pits do contain small amounts of cyanide, which was once manufactured through processing peach pits. Several other fruits with pits, such as apricots, also have trace amounts of cyanide in the pits. And almonds may be the first genetically engineered plant since humans bred the deadly, to humans, cyanide levels out them to make them edible for people.

For Dracos, the Forsaken could not talk to one another, not even Balthamel and Aginor, who were trapped near the surface and at least intermittently conscious and aware what was happening in the world. You might say that being trapped where they were, in a Bore that existed everywhere at once, allowed them to see the whole world. But for the others, it was a deep and dreamless sleep. Even for Ishamael, except when he was spun out periodically. When thinking about the Forsaken, you might factor in the effects of dream deprivation.

For Comet Sedai, no, Slayer didn't kill Laura Palmer. But Lanfear can tie a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue. In fact, she can tie it into a square knot. Or a bowline. Or.... Well, the list goes on too long. Yes, the Ayyad's eyes were popping, as well as those of damane in Seanchan. Anyone who can channel, to however small a degree, is vulnerable to the circle of 13 trick.

For kcf, again, we have never met anyone who has the Talent of emulating the effects of a ta'veren over a small area. I give my input on the design of the chapter icons whenever a new one seems needed, but Harriet actually decides where to place them, and I am happy to leave the job to her. Yes, Ingtar was seen at the Darkfriend Social. The Wheel creates ta'veren at need, making someone who is already alive one. You aren't born ta'veren. Can you imagine being around a ta'veren who is teething? It would be possible for a Darkfriend or Forsaken to be made ta'veren, but it seems unlikely. Ta'veren are part of the Wheel's self-correcting mechanism. When the Pattern seems to be drifting too quickly, and especially if it is in the wrong direction, one or more ta'veren are created. I can't really see how making a Darkfriend or Forsaken ta'veren would help with correcting the drift of the Pattern. Ta'veren can oppose one another, when their conflict is what the Wheel "sees" as the necessary corrective. And, no, ta'veren is not Old Tongue for Deus ex machina. It came out of musings on luck, charismatic leaders, and the theory of the indispensable man. Katerine escaped with the help of Darkfriends. Galina, who is much more closely watched by Wise Ones than Katerine was, would have little opportunity to use their help for an escape even if she wanted to, and she doesn't, not until she can get her hands on that rod. She'll put up with anything to get that. Anyone who can channel, however weakly, can see the glow of saidar and feel someone channel. For sul'dam who have been sul'dam for a time, some begin to be able to see what might be called a ghostly image of the flows. Others convince themselves that this is, of course, only imagination and manage to give themselves a block. Wow, you have a lot of questions. One more, and then I'm off to the next person. Someone who sees ta'veren sees them as glowing. The more strongly ta'veren, the brighter the glow. This is a Talent, and is something that only someone who can channel can do. While she was stilled, Siuan could not see ta'veren, nor could she have if she had been burned out.

For Roland Arien, a lot of people have asked questions about Alric's death. I should have made matters plainer. As I envisioned it, Alric, having sensed Siuan's extreme shock, came running to her and arrived just in time to be stabbed just before Siuan was taken into the anteroom. She should have sensed the knife going in, but that was masked by her shock. When she sees him lying there, he is dying, though not yet dead. As I said, I should have made it plainer.

For ricktheinevitable, I have no plans to send Rand to Shara at present. Oh, yes. I think of time in this world as fixed circular, but with a drifting variation. There are slight differences in the Pattern each time through so that if you thought of the Pattern as a tapestry and held up two successive weaves, you couldn't see any differences from a distance, only close up, but the more time turnings between tapestries, the more changes are apparent. But the basic Pattern always remains the same.

For Mark A, there are plenty of reasons for men and women to have a certain degree of distrust, though the fact that many Aes Sedai have Warders and good relationships with them shows that it isn't all mistrust. How much trust do most men and women have for the opposite gender here and now? I trust Harriet with my life, but look at how most people are. Look at most women's views of men, and most men's views of women. There is a lot of distrust right there. As for the Forsaken, they don't trust anybody. Gender doesn't enter into it.

Okay, not such a long post today, but it's getting late here. We're having venison tonight, and I need to pick out a good wine.

Take care, guys.

All my best,

ONE MORE TIME - October 4th, 2005

My, this could get addictive. I hope you guys realize that I'll be going silent this weekend, for the duration of the tour. But I'll try to get in another post or two before then. No promises, however.

First off, apologies to everyone if I misspell your screen name. It seems that may turn out to be a bad habit I can't break. Spellcheck is no help at all, of course.

For Deadsy, the last book I completed was Walter Mosley's Cinnamon Kiss. I just started Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. And I'm ashamed to say that when I first saw your post on wotmania about having a secret, I thought, "Ah-ha! Palm or hairbrush?" Just following the context, and your blushes. Then I realized what it was. Thank you for keeping the secret.

For Corin Ashaman, I've never changed anything because of a post. I did think of doing so when I first discovered the online community. I'd see someone who had figured out where I was going with something and think that I should change it just to keep the surprise factor. But there was always somebody else, often a lot of somebodies, who would post explaining why the first post just had to be wrong. So I went ahead and did what I had planned to do. Now, when somebody figures out what's what, I just think that's somebody who's on the ball and go on with my writing.

For elementfwwe, what keeps me going is that I enjoy what am doing. Think about it. I can make a living doing what I enjoy more than anything except sex. I don't pattern characters after real people, but I do sometimes lift part of a real person for a character. I will say that a character in KoD, Charlz Guybon, is named after a man whose wife won an auction for naming rights after I agreed to be part of a fund raiser for an English charity that works with victims of torture. She sent me his description, which I used. As I've often said, each of my major female characters has at least one element drawn from Harriet. And I won't tell her which parts of which characters came from her. That despite the fact that, as she likes to point out, she knows where I sleep. She did figure out that she is Semirhage when the garbage doesn't get to the curb on time, though. As for my idol, that is my father, now deceased. He was a wonderful man, with a rich life. I'll try to paint a small picture. He got his first car, a Model A, at the age of thirteen because he had the habit of hitching rides with bootleggers in the Tennessee mountains, and after he was in a wreck where the driver ran off and my father told the police who had been chasing them that he had been driving, his father decided to put an end to the hitching. He was a noted middleweight boxer in the 1930s, rising in the rankings, but stopped after he badly injured another man in the ring. He was a veteran of WWII who spent a lot of time behind the Japanese lines, a quiet, gentle man who taught me to rebuild automobile engines, to hunt and fish. He told stories over the campfire when we were out hunting or fishing, thus starting me on the road to storytelling myself. He never said a word about me stealing shotgun shells from his stock so a known bootlegger and poacher would take me into the woods with him. Well, I didn't know about the poaching until later. But Junior knew more about the woods than anybody else I've ever met. My father was a poker shark with a photographic memory who allowed me to sit in for three hands whenever the weekly game was at our house, even when I was young enough to need to sit on three encyclopedias to be able to get my arms on the table. He staked me, he ate the losses, and we split any winnings I had. I did win one of those hands while sitting on stacked up Encyclopedia Americanas. He told my brothers and me that he had few requirements of us. Be honest. Keep your word always. Try to do better with your life than he had done with his. And whatever you decided to be, whether it was a college professor or an auto mechanic, be the best at it that you could manage to be. Yes, he was, and is, my idol.

For Niall Reborn, I don't think that lurking will make me lose detachment or distance. But then, I don't really do it very often. Oh, yes. Slayer just choses who he will be when he steps into or out of Tel'aran'rhiod. The stepping in and out is part of the mechanism for his change. He couldn't do it in the middle of a street, say, not without the stepping in or out. Which might be a little noticeable, since he would vanish from sight for a perceptible time.

For Infested Templar, I had little to do with the RPG. Mainly my role was limited to telling them that they could not have paladins, ninjas, clerics, shuriken etc. I had to put so much time into that fighting that I washed my hands of the rest, I'm afraid. I could see that trying to make them actually adapt the books was going to be Valmy Ridge all over again. At least I managed to stop them from putting in a ter'angreal that could bring on the Last Battle in some unspecified manner and also some other really terrible ideas. I wish I had been able to do more, but I had a book to write.

For Child of Lir, until I recently learned that there is a fern called leatherleaf, I thought that I had made the name up out of thin air. In any case, mine is a tree. Several of the trees I have named have been, I thought, my inventions. I am surprised that that they actually exist.

For Gillmadin, I actually had comparatively few notes when I sold the books to Tor. They built up considerably over the writing of The Eye of the World, and still more later. To give an example, for Eye, I had considerable notes about the Aes Sedai, about Andor, the Two Rivers, Shienar, the Ways and the history of the world, but my notes on, say Cairhien, were much sketchier. When I needed to write about Cairhien, though, I fleshed those notes out. I didn't begin writing the Wheel of Time until after I was finished with writing the Conan novels, but some of the ideas that would become tWoT were kicking around in my head before I began The Fallon Blood.

For Segovia, my intention is finish with twelve books, and that may mean that the last book will be VERY long, but I really can't say how long it will take me to write. My publisher is always trying to get me to commit to a time frame. I just do a little sand dance until he goes away. I carry a small bottle of sand with me in New York for exactly that purpose.

For Mr Mashadar, I think Faile's reaction is perfectly reasonable. Here she is thinking that Perrin may just be Mr Right, and then this sultry floozy waltzes in and starts trying to put the moves on him. Berelain even says right out that she'll take him away from Faile. Even without that, Faile has plenty of reason to consider Berelain a floozy and essentially worthless. After all, from what she knows, Berelain has tried putting the moves on not only Perrin, but also Rand and quite likely Rhuarc. She can't be inside Berelain's head to know that Berelain uses sex and her reputation as political tools. So why would she want to be chums with Berelain?

Also for Mr Mashadar, I think, my favorite fantasy novel is The Lord of the Rings, hands down. The largest effect that it had on my writing was a desire to be the flip side of the coin, to take the comfortable old tropes and put a different spin on them. Also, the creation of paradox is one source of balefire's danger. Remember that in the War of the Shadow, even the forces of the Shadow gave up using it because of the fear that reality itself might unravel.

For Krassos, yes, a channeler could still channel wearing Mat's amulet. Cadsuane has one much like it. And I think that I will complete "Trust" eventually. I think about doing so every now and then.

For Anonymous, you can send plot related questions to me through my publisher, but I don't often answer those.

For Phil Reborn, Lanfear climbed onto the wagon to get the angreal. Rand was occupying her to the extent that she couldn't afford to just use flows of Air to bring it to her. And Lanfear being Lanfear, there was a touch of the dramatic in it. She was always a drama queen.

For Alys Kinch, the Healing of stilling must be done by the other gender to be fully effective. A woman Healing a woman or a man Healing a man results in less than full restoration. It all ties into that theme I keep harping on. Men and women have to work together to be their most effective. And while the weave used by Flinn for Healing is not exactly that used by Nynaeve, either would use the same weave on a man or a woman.

For Randshammer, you might say that mortals made the Horn of Valere. They certainly weren't gods. No, the story is NOT a dream. Jeez Marie! A very strong male channeler bonded to a very weak Aes Sedai could not use the bond to control her. Whoever holds the bond is in charge, though she might have a hard time controlling him. Everybody fears death because the being that is reborn, while possessing the same soul, will not be the same person. The fear is simple. I will cease to exist. Someone else will exist, bearing my soul. But I will cease. I have met many believers in reincarnation, and most of them seem to fear death just as much as anyone else. Yes, Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene could pass the test for Aes Sedai with their current abilities, though Nynaeve might be a little hard pressed. Too much specialization. And finally, as I have said, I would not change anything in the books except the way that I structured CoT.

For Sodas, when you are balefired, you are dead, dead, dead. It almost seemed redundant to say so.

For Sidious, when Alivia faced Cyndane, Alivia was by far the stronger because of her angreal, and had various tools (ter'angreal) to work with besides, but Cyndane was much, much more knowledgeable about channeling. Alivia, after all, knew relatively little except how to be a weapon. That was very useful in the situation, but in this case, knowledge versus strength made it an even match. Now as to Rahvin sitting on his throne and being shocked to see Rand. First off, he knew his first trap hadn't worked, but he had others ready. He saw no reason to start jumping about. He thought he was maneuvering Rand into a series of traps, one of which he was sure would work. He did not expect Rand to simply leap into the same room with him. He did not expect Rand to know that he could Travel to somewhere in sight of himself without knowing the ground. So what he had expected to be a chess game where he knew the positions of all the pieces and Rand did not suddenly turned into a close-quarters slugging match. Surprise!

For Paetram, the game of Stones is very much like Go. No, I don't play go myself, only go-moku. It is remarkably hard to learn the game when you have no one to play against. I would love to find a computer game to practice against, but I haven't been able to find one. I probably haven't looked hard enough. There must be one out there.

For Gyrehead, Foretelling is not related to strength. The weakest possible channeler could Foretell as strongly as Elaida or Nicola, or perhaps even more so, depending entirely on the strength of his or her Talent for Foretelling. The three Red Sitters were sent into exile in 985 NE under Marith Jaen. Yes, Morgase has slowed, and that is exactly why there is so much emphasis on her looking only ten years older than Perrin when she has children the ages of Elayne and Gawyn. Regarding the percentage of women who could test for the shawl, it would be 62.5% of the bellcurve. I'll leave the maths to you for an idle moment. The question doesn't really apply to men, since the Black Tower accepts anyone who can learn to channel, but if the White Tower limits were applied, it would be roughly 65.4% of the bellcurve. Although, considering the effectiveness question, they should probably set it at the same 62.5%. Again, the maths are all yours. Regarding the levels of male strength, while the weakest man and the weakest woman would be roughly equivalent, you might say that there are several levels of male strength on top of the female levels. Remember to integrate this with what I've said elsewhere about effectiveness, though.

For ems, I really don't mind that some of you hate characters, and I don't mind the spam. Sometimes I read the theories, and if you mean by listen to the debates, read the posted discussions, then yes, I do, sometimes. This is very much a sometime thing, though. I don't have much time to lurk, so I drift around until I see what seems an interesting thread and peek in.

For foxhead, I think you'll find this covered elsewhere, but here goes. The evil of Shadar Logoth and the evil of the Shadow might be considered positive and negative poles. They attract, as do the positive and negative poles of two magnets, but if they make contact, the result is more like making contact between the positive and negative poles of your car battery. Big sparks. Really big sparks.

For Mike Hopessorrow, it took me aback a little the first time I saw myself named as the Creator, but I don't really mind. So long as you don't start believing I deserve the cap. Now when a very pretty roughly twenty-year old girl, trembling mind, said to me, "You're a god!", that I liked a lot.

For Linda Sedai, Rand misjudges Taim's age because when they meet, you might say Taim has been rode hard and put away wet. He has just finished a long and difficult flight to reach Caemlyn, the one place where he might find refuge instead of being hunted -- along with other reasons -- and that has a wearing effect on anyone. Now that he has recovered, he doesn't look so old.

Well, that ought to be enough for today, guys. Enjoy.

All my best,

ONE MORE TIME - October 2th, 2005

Well, here I am again. I've compiled a long list of questions from various places, and I'll try to answer as many as I can before the tour begins. I won't be taking them in any specific order.

First off, for JBumG, my apologies for misspelling your name.

For DomA, I can't be sure that the logical patterns you see in the election of Amyrlins are the same that I used in making the list, but there are logical patterns to them. If Harriet adds to the Encyclopedia who was a strong Amrylin, who middling and who weak, you might see more patterns.

For F Horn of Valere, I spend relatively little time with the notes compared to the time I spend actually writing. I do a refresher run-through before I begin writing, and I have what I call a "base notes" file for each storyline and each group. That contains the major things I believe might be necessary for each storyline along with reminders of where more detailed information is to be found.

For HotW-Moiraine, yes, the bearded man ter'angreal could be said to be my Alfred Hitchcock moment. In KoD, you'll learn what it does.

For SemiArmadillo, Harriet doesn't post to any websites.

For kcf, I think I would like fans to walk away with the following. If the answer is easy, consider the possibility that you asked the wrong question.

For Infested Templar, two women linking have slightly less of saidar available to them than the two women would have individually. But it can be used much, much more precisely, and therefore more effectively, than they could manage working merely as partners. The reduction also occurs for men entering a circle. One man in a circle means that only the amount of saidin that he can handle, less the reduction for being in a circle, is available. Men can be much stronger than women in the pure quantity of the Power that they can channel, but on a practical level, women are much more deft in their weaving and that means the strongest possible woman can do just about anything that the strongest possible man could, and to the same degree. And finally, the Old Tongue is written in a script that has more letters than the English alphabet, some representing diphthongs. That script will be in the Encyclopedia that Harriet will do, along with 950 or so words of the Old Tongue derived from what is called Basic English, the 950 words necessary to carry on an understandable conversation. Some words I dropped as essentially unnecessary to the books -- electricity, for example -- while others -- such as sword and names of birds and animals -- I had to add. The total might come nearer 1000 words by now.

For Papazen, while I have spoken of souls being born with the ability to channel in response to questions, I think of it as being genetic also. In the Age of Legends, between 2 and 3% of people had some ability, following a bell curve distribution in strength. For over 3000 years, though, Aes Sedai have been removing men who actually learned to channel from the gene pool. They have been very efficient at this. As a result, the "present day" sees about 1% of the population who can learn to channel, with a much, much smaller percentage of that being born with the spark.

For N.O. Scott, no development in any of the characters has ever caught me by surprise, though once or twice I have realized that I could use someone in a fashion I hadn't expected to. There have been a few things that I intended to do but didn't. Sometimes, choosing to take a character in a certain direction precludes other things. The only thing that I wish I hadn't done was use the structure that I did for CoT, with major sections beginning on the same day. Mind, I still think the book works as it is, but I believe it would have been better had I taken a more linear approach. When you try something different, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.

For Brent Ross, getting an agent isn't expensive. An agent makes his or her money from taking a commission on what your work is sold for and earns. Agents who want reading fees and the like are to be distrusted, in my book. You really need an agent, though, if you want to sell your work, short fiction aside. I don't know of a major publishing house that will even look at unagented submissions any more.

For Lucky Day, Asha'man have varying degrees of ability with the sword, just like anyone else. There has to be a certain level of talent for anyone to reach a particular level of skill, and also there is the question of how hard a particular person might try at learning the sword. After all, he can channel, right? Sword? I don't need no stinking sword, gringo!

For Children of the Light, the Whitecloaks were inspired by the Inquisition, the SS, the Teutonic Knights and others. In fact, they were inspired by all those groups who say, "We know the truth. It is the only truth. You will believe it, or we will kill you."

For Perrin WT, I don't think about how many pages I do in a day. I don't believe I've ever really tried to estimate it. The way I work, frequently going back to rewrite something done earlier, makes it very hard to count pages per day. I have misspelled characters names now and then; when I am typing very fast, sometimes my fingers get dyslexic. I believe my grammar is very good, though I sometimes use constructions that I doubt any English teacher I ever had would approve of. First you learn the rules. Then you can start learning when and where you can break the rules.

For Shiska, a mixed gender circle has X amount of saidin and Y amount of saidar available, set by the strengths of the men and women in it. Talents or special skills available to members of the circle other than whoever is melding the flows are not available to the person who is. If those Talents or skills are particularly needed, then control of the circle must be passed.

For Rifty, the extra body Rand found was that of a Gray Man. And, by the way, proof that the lady was no lady. She was a Darkfriend.

For Margot, I'm sure that people will still want quasi-medieval fantasy, but other types are interesting, too. In Infinity of Heaven, one of the cultures involved will be at more of an early-to-mid Eighteenth Century level, complete with gunpowder weapons. I'd like to do some books set in a late Victorian or Edwardian world, and I have a stand-alone in mind that I might do eventually which is set partly in the present day and partly in various real historical periods. As you say, other writers are broadening the field, and that is good, to my mind.

For Crowl Rife, the last movie I saw in a theater was Junebug. It has some truly sad parts, but Harriet and I laughed through most of it. Then she took a couple of her friends to see it, and they thought it was the most depressing thing they had ever seen. Go figure.

For Cooner 1987, I don't think there is any similarity between Hobbits and the Two Rivers folk. The Two Rivers people are based on a lot of country people I have known, and among whom I did a lot of my growing up. I did try to make the first roughly 100 pages of EYE seem somewhat Tolkienesque. I wanted to say, "This is the place you know, guys. Now we're going somewhere else." And then the Trolloc kicked in the farmhouse door. But I didn't take it to the point of trying to make the Two Rivers folk seem like Hobbits. I mean, I love The Lord of the Rings and have read it at least a dozen times, but when you have too many Hobbits together, they can be so bloody cute that I need a stiff drink.

For Flavion, I'm sorry you've had some bad experiences with writers. I think a writer should either make an effort to be pleasant with the fans or else avoid them. Of course.... A fellow once wrote me a long screed, back around The Great Hunt or perhaps The Dragon Reborn, complaining bitterly, and I do mean bitterly, about the complexity of the plots making the books unreadable. I shouldn't have done it, but I wrote back suggesting that he try The Velveteen Rabbit as more his speed. In my defense, I can only say that it was late in the day, and I was tired.

For son o'merc, I doubt I'll ever do any short stories, but who knows? Never say never.

For Anonymous -- a busy poster -- the ruby in Padan Fain's dagger is just a ruby. Of course, the entire dagger is corrupted and corrupting.

And last but not least, for Deadsy, there is only one way for you find out whether I wear boxers or briefs, and you wouldn't like Harriet's reaction. Neither would I. Yes, I've begun picking up questions before they reach the blog.

That's all for now, guys.

Take care.

All my best,

YET ANOTHER POST - September 30th, 2005

First off, to all of you have said thank you, in so many ways, for writing these books, you're welcome. And also thank you. You have given me what every writer wants, a readership that is truly involved and interested. Thank you, very much.

Some of you have expressed worry over my lurking and a fear that I might take offense at some of the posts. I don't. Not even at the trolls. Please feel free to keep on saying whatever you have been saying. I am not the thought police.

For Seriana Sedai, don't worry. I won't be discussing spam here. To tell you the truth, I skip over it very quickly.

DomA asks whether I feel sadness at the hatred of Cadsuane. No, nor do I feel sadness over those who dislike Egwene or Elayne or Faile or insert name here. The characters are who I want them to be. Some, people will like, and others people will dislike. In any case, I've noticed that even Faile has her supporters. As for her, I like her a lot. But then, I like all of my characters, even Semirhage. Even Padan Fain. As a character, anyway. As for Faile, she is a tough woman with a lot of gumption. Taken prisoner, enslaved in truth, caught in a cleft stick by the threats of Galina and Therava, she has (1) tried to get her people to freedom as she could and (2) worked toward an escape for the rest. However tough her situation gets, she wastes zero time on moaning about it. She gets on with trying to make it better. And Cadsuane? She's the tough maiden aunt a lot of us have had. Not the one who tries to keep you a child your whole life. She's the one who began expecting at least some adult responses out of you at about age six, the one who was willing to hand you responsibilities that everyone else thought you were too young for. You probably had a more nerve-wracking time, and more excitement and adventure, with her than you did with any three or four other adults in your life.

Now then. Isabel. Does your mother know you're posting at 1 AM? Do I need to ask her to supervise your online activities? Well, I suppose it might be 1 AM Eastern time, or Pacific. And you are in the Netherlands. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. And thank you for the spirited defense. I probably won't answer plot-related questions, but who knows. I might slip up and do one now and then.

For Rohit and Mand680, Robert Jordan doesn't come out of Hemingway. In fact, when I first made the connection, I had already written three books under the name. My pen names have all been chosen from three lists of names using my real initials. It has been a matter of one from column A and one from column B, or maybe column C. One pen name actually managed to contain all three initials in a first name and a surname.

For Cloverleaf, my next set of books after The Wheel of Time will also be fantasy, entitled Infinity of Heaven. The writing style will remain the same, though I will keep trying, as I always have, to get better. There are no plans to publish a collection of my raw notes, but Harriet, with my incidental help, will be doing an Encyclopedia of WoT which will have a lot of stuff out of the notes.

For llm (hope I have that spelled correctly), I do daily backups using Nero and keep the backup discs in a safe place so that if something drastic happens to my main computer, all I need do is pick up a laptop, pop in the discs, and go on working.

For JBunG, I will definitely be spending a lot more time writing than on the blog. Now, I put in an hour now and again on the blog, every few days. When I go on tour, the blog will go silent for a while. And when I come back and go to full work days on Book 12, I'll probably post no more than once a week unless I have something I think really needs to be said.

And for MJJ, as posted by DomA, pillow friends are not just good friends. Oh, they are that, too, but they also get hot and sweaty together and muss up the sheets something fierce. By the way, pillow friends is a term used in the White Tower. The same relationship between men or women elsewhere would be called something else, depending on the country.

Well, enough of that. Some of you are probably getting afraid that I intend to post daily screeds by this time. I have a list of questions to answer already, and I'll try to get to the rest of them, and any others that pop up, before I go on tour.

Take care, guys.

All my best,

THIS AND THAT - September 28th 2005

It seems to me that you've put up a lot of comments given the few days that has been possible. I think I'll address a few of them.

I see that someone -- anonymous -- uses the audio book pronunciations for a guide. In the very beginning, the actors doing the reading got in touch with me about pronunciations, but they stopped halfway through reading The Eye of the World, and I haven't heard from them since. So I wouldn't go too much by what they use.

kcf asks whether I can get Tor to include Phoenix, Arizona, in my tour. Sorry, but I just go where Tor sends me, and they make their choices based on some arcane ritual in the basement of the Flatiron Building that involves killing a white rooster at midnight. No; don't take that seriously. No threads about white roosters! Actually they receive proposals from a LOT of bookstores and chains, enough to keep me on the road for four or five months they tell me, and pick out what they can fit into roughly a month while hitting most of the major markets (Chicago, Seattle, Denver and St. Louis are among those that missed the cut this time), making the major chains feel well thought of (sorry, but that's how it is), and trying to hit as many New York Times reporting bookstores as possible. The extent of my involvement this time was getting them to include a second Barnes & Noble signing in Charleston, SC, some weeks after the tour ends, because the manager of that store had really worked hard to get the Charleston signing. And that is about how much involvement I have in picking cities in any tour.

For Kamanile, I didn't put the whole onus for failing to see the gasp moment on the fans. If you read my post, I said that either I had failed completely in making you have the same sense of realness in the books that I do when writing or else.... I do think there is a hardening to many people, though, through being inundated with images of hurricane victims, tsunami victims, people starving because of famines, suicide bombing sites etc. There was a time that the splattered blood of a suicide bomb site would have been considered too graphic and violent for the evening news. Now, it is an appropriate thing to show while people are having dinner. It won't spoil too many appetites. I noticed one or two posts of comments to spoiler reviews where the gasp moment was revealed and some people seemed to find it funny. That's somebody who probably makes Darfur jokes.

For Justy_Hakubi, do I have notes? I have notes you wouldn't believe. For example, the file called Individual Aes Sedai and Initiates of the White Tower is well over 2 megabytes now, and the Aes Sedai General file, which contains details of Tower law, Tower life, training for novices and Accepted, customs, ceremonies etc, is nearly as big. The file Remember, which lists things about each character that I must remember when writing about him or her, would be well over a thousand pages if printed out. I have an individual file on each major character and on each nation and each group, such as the Children of the Light and the Kin. The nation and group files include, among other things, every person of that nation or group ever mentioned, everything that has been said about them, and information about them that has never been in the books but helped me see a three-dimensional character. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.

For kcf again, I haven't visited the FAQs recently. I'll have to do so when I have time. It does take time to go through everything in even one FAQ, you know. I suspect by this time you guys may have bettered what I said a few years ago, that one-third of the FAQ information was right, one-third was close but no cigar, and one-third was pure blue sky fantasy. Occasionally I'll see something posted and think, "Well, you really have been paying attention, haven't you, now. You hit that dead on." This is especially interesting when somebody has accurately figured out what I intend to do in the future, or close to it. Of course, I also see posts that make me chuckle. Somebody who though he was taking the train to Boston but jumped on a roller-coaster instead.

Well, that's it for now, guys.

Take care.

All my best,

DUMB EVIL? - September 25th 2005

I see a number of posts about that, and I find them a little surprising. Anybody out there ever read about the internal workings of the Third Reich or the reasons why the Nazis made some of their major, and often disastrous decisions? It was a zoo. A madhouse! Just for an example, even in the last days, they were sidelining trains carrying desperately needed supplies to the front in order to use the engines to transport more people to the death camps! And yet they came within a whisker or two of winning. There are hundreds of counterfactuals -- the historian's name for alternate histories -- showing how the Nazis could have won outright as late as Normandy, at least to the extent of hanging onto Germany and quite possibly France, or pulled out a tie as late as the Battle of the Bulge. The internal workings of the Soviet Union under Lenin, Stalin (even more so) and most of their successors often made the Nazis look almost sensible, yet Stalin did manage to defeat the Nazis, though largely with the inadvertent help of the Nazis themselves. And his successors, frequently making decisions in nearly buffoon-like fashion, came very close to pulling out a victory over the Western democracies. Henry Kissinger actually saw his position as negotiating the best second-place position he could for the United States vis-a-vis the Soviet Union and the inevitable triumph of communism. True fact. You can look it up. Both Kissinger's feelings and the view of many intelligent people on this side of the Iron Curtain that we were fighting a losing battle are a matter of record. I lived through a lot of that, took part in some of the skirmishing, and I'll tell you, it was a damned close run thing.

The Forsaken are a group of power hungry people who don't like one another and vie with one another for power as much as they vie with the forces of the Light. Much like the internal politicking in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But look at the situation in the world as it actually stands, from the White Tower divided to crop failures caused by a too-long winter and a too-long summer and people fleeing their farms because the Dragon Reborn has broken all bonds, meaning still less food, and that spoiling at a fearsome rate, from chaos in Arad Doman to a large part of the Borderland armies out of position, from the arrival of the Seanchan focusing too many eyes on them instead of the Shadow to the strongest single nation, Andor, riven by civil war in all but name and Tear split by open warfare, from.... Well, take your pick. There are lots more to chose from. Take a step back and look at what the forces of the Shadow have wrought. The world and the forces of the Light are in bad shape. At this point, boys and girls, the Shadow is winning. There are glimmers of hope, but only glimmers, and they MUST pay off for the Light to win. All the Shadow needs for victory is for matters to keep on as they have been going thus far and one or two of those glimmers to fade or be extinguished. The forces of the Light are on the ropes, and they don't even know everything the Dark One has up his sleeve.

Think of it this way. The bell is about to ring for the fifteenth round, and the Light is so far behind on points the only way to win is a knockout. Our boy is game, but he's wobbly on his legs and bleeding from cuts over his eyes. Now he has three minutes to pull out his best stuff and deliver the punch of his life. The Dark One has taken a few shots, but nothing that has really damaged him. He's still dancing on his toes and talking trash. His head shots can fracture a skull, and his body punches can break ribs. And now he's ready to unveil his surprises. You didn't think all it would take is for Rand to show up at the Last Battle, did you? According to the Prophecies, the Light has no chance without him, but his presence doesn't ensure victory, just that the Light has a chance. Gotta stiffen your legs and blink the blood out of your eyes. Gotta suck it up and find that punch. Three minutes to go, and you gotta find that knockout. That's your only chance.

I seem to be making a lot of posts to something I said I would post to infrequently. I think I need to let my keyboard cool off.

Take care, guys.


THE GASP MOMENT - September 24th 2005

I just finished with a post to this blog, but I thought I'd make this separate, especially since I told Jason to go ahead and let you post comments to the blog. Not that I'll be answering your comments necessarily, but we may enter into a dialogue upon occasion.

No, I'm not going to reveal what the "gasp" moment is. I certainly won't be putting any spoilers here. But I have read the reviews, both spoiler and non-spoiler. For those who have read the book and believe you have identified the "gasp" moment, congratulations. For those who have read the book and still don't know what the "gasp" moment is, my sympathies. I mean that in all truth. You failed to see something that really should have made you gasp. I think I am fairly hardened, but occasionally something happens that makes me mutter, "Where are you, God? Are you sleeping? Are you blind?" This is fiction, but even so, I had to pause a couple of times in writing about it. Of course, I get deeply immersed in my work so that it becomes real to me while I am writing, but I hope to pull the reader into that level of realness, too. Either I failed completely in this instance, or some of you have become way too hardened. Too much on the evening news, I suppose. It's just today's hurricane, today's tsunami, today's Armageddon. I wonder what's coming up at eleven?

On a lighter note, I understand that some of you are unhappy with the pronunciation of Taim's name. Sorry, guys, but it is tah-EEM, not tame. Never tame. Not that one. In the same vein, Shaido is shah-EE-doh, not SHY-doh.

For a few others that I understand some folks have trouble with:
Siuan -- swan.
Demandred -- deh-MAN-drehd.
Seanchan -- SHAWN-chan.
Seandar -- SHAWN-dahr.
Moiraine -- mwah-RAIN.
Mandragoran -- man-drah-GORE-ahn.

Maybe I'll give you a few others another time.

Take care, guys. And remember, if you can look at absolutely anything without at least a desire to weep, then you've lost part of your humanity.


THIS AND THAT - September 24th 2005

For Marigan at Wotmania, and anyone else who might be wondering, not only do I not have cancer at present, I have never had cancer. Never. That was one of those rumors that float around without a shred of truth to them, thank God. I understand that I have been dead or near dead several times according to the rumors. I was run down by a bus once, so I recall hearing. Not true.

For the poster at Dragonmount who thinks I'm "whipped," boy do you have the wrong end of the stick. The smelly end, in fact. I might in truth be described as a top in occasional remission, following on Marigan's theme. I do tend to let the women in my life have their own way most of the time. After all, how often does it really matter? In any enduring relationship, you have to choose the hills on which you are ready to die. At least if you expect it to endure. Besides, it has advantages. (I don't mind making this public, since Harriet has heard it before and doesn't believe it. Read on and see why she doesn't believe.) The women I have let have their own way have always done their best to make my life pleasant, which is very nice indeed. And just at the point where contempt might start creeping in because I seemingly am such a pushover, something inevitably comes up to which I say, not yes, but no. The result of this sudden shock is that all of her dendrites uncurl simultaneously, resulting in short-term physical paralysis and amnesia. (Yes, it also works with Harriet, AKA Wonder Woman.) By the time she remembers how to walk again, by the time she remembers her own name, everything has been adjusted as I wish, and all she is left with is the vague realization that something happened and matters are not quite as she would wish, but she can't see how to recover the situation. Additionally, she is left with the impression that I was somehow involved in this, which puts shadows of darkness and danger around me all over again, thus dispelling any chances of contempt forming, and we are back happily to me saying yes and her making my life pleasant. Plus being darkly dangerous adds to your level of being interesting, you see. Just because you don't ride a Harley any more doesn't mean your soul can't fire up the Fat Boy now and again. Even women who deny it find a certain fascination there. If you don't believe, just watch her eyes dilate the next time a Harley rumbles past.

Take care, guys.


(no subject) - September 19th 2005

I noticed in browsing the other day that someone wondered whether my cold was part of my "cancer." I want to quash that one before it turns into a rumor. I do not have cancer. I did have a cold that had me sick as a dog for three days, but not cancer. I've been undergoing a thorough checkup since finishing Knife of Dreams, with every sort of test you can imagine, and believe me, if there was any suspicion of such a thing, I would know.

This should be confirmation that I do lurk upon occasion, on several sites. At the moment, working only half days on the new book -- that will continue until the tour begins; after the tour, it is back to full days -- I have time to do that more often than when I am writing all day. Then I can only drop by once in a while for a a few minutes to scan through the thread headers and see if anyone else has figured out who killed Asmodean -- some of you have, but I won't say who -- or whether some incredible rumor has begun growing like a fungus. But I am not a member at any site, so forget about the possibility that I make posts.

Take care, guys. And remember -- no cancer.


HI - September 15th 2005

Hi, guys. Jason at Dragonmount set this up for me so I can talk to you directly now and then without having to ask him to make a post for me. I won't be posting often, and certainly not regularly. Just when I have something to say. That's it for now. An announcement to WATCH THIS SPACE. I am trying to fight off a nasty cold while dreading the early morning drive tomorrow to Winston-Salem for SEBA, the Southeastern Booksellers Association convention, so I will sign off now to try to get a little rest.

Take care, guys.


PS For the European fans and those planning to fly to Copenhagen, Tor Books informed me this morning that they asked Fantask to remove Knife of Dreams from the shelves until the official laydown date, and Fantask has complied. Sorry about that. Well, not too sorry. It was very bad of Fantask to try to break the laydown date.

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