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This Interview has been provided by Orbit, and is printed with their permission.
Robert Jordan is the bestselling author of the Wheel of Time series. WINTER'S HEART, the ninth book in the series, is out this month and contains a breadth of scope and depth of character rarely matched. Before he embarks on his US tour, we caught up with him to ask some of the questions the fans have been asking us.
How did you begin writing?
From the age of five I intended to write, one day. When I had established myself in a more stable profession. Then I had an accident that resulted in a month's stay in the hospital, during which I almost died, and I decided life was too short to wait on 'one day'. So I started writing.
What attracted you to writing fantasy?
I think that, in large part, I was led to fantasy because in fantasy it is possible to talk about right and wrong, good and evil, with a straight face. In so much else of literature, everything has begun to be rendered in shades of gray. It isn't that I don't believe there are gray areas, morally and ethically, but not everything is murky.
What differences do you think there are between writing mainstream and fantasy fiction?
None, really. In truth, given the appearance in more and more mainstream literature of ghosts, telepathy, the past impinging on the present, and other things that should be called fantasy, there is much less difference than, say, fifty years ago.
What started you down the road that led to writing THE EYE OF THE WORLD?
A number of idle speculations that percolated around in the back of my head. I thought about what it really would be like - really - to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you had been born to save humanity. Even if the danger was real and imminent and everyone knew that someone was...scheduled, you might say...to show up and take care of matters, how would they react when that someone stood up and said here I am? I was thinking about the distortion of information over distance, whether distance in space or in time, and how that applied to both history and legends. The further you are from an event, the less likely you are to know what really happened. I was thinking about what the world would be like if there had never been any need for a struggle for women's rights, or if that struggle had taken place so long ago that it just wasn't relevant any longer. No one thinks it's odd to see women as high ranking politicians, or working on the docks. No one ever thinks that something is or isn't a suitable job for a woman. There were fifty or more lines of thought, and suddenly I saw, in rough form, what turned out to be the final scene of the last book of the Wheel. When I realized that that was what it was, a conclusion, all I had to do was figure out where to start from and how to get from A to Z.
How do you keep track of all the storylines and characters that you have woven into the series? Do you have a system of reference or is it all stored in your head?
The storylines are all in my head, except that when I begin a book I do sit down at the computer and ramble about a bit to figure out exactly how I intend to fit various things together. For the characters - and the cultures, nations, organizations and a great deal else - I have files on my computer. For example, there are two files on Aes Sedai. One has things like the history of the White Tower, its laws and rules, the customs and group attitudes of Aes Sedai as a whole and among the different Ajahs, details of organization for the various Ajahs, how the Hall of the Tower works and how Sitters are chosen in the different Ajahs, how women come to enter the Tower, how they are trained.... In fact, just about everything I can think of that might be useful to know about the White Tower.
Copyright© 2002 Orbit
. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. The interview has been provided by Orbit
and is printed with their permission.