Here are a couple of photos from RJ. His comments:
...here are a couple of me, one with the dragon do-rag and one without. Liese Corrigan is coming by this afternoon to take some pics, and I'm pretty sure there will be something better among them. Ugly customer, isn't he!
Personally, I don't think it's THAT bad. The new look reminds me of somebody, but I can't quite put my finger on it. (Maybe James Cromwell)? Hmm. Maybe not. It'll come to me later I'm sure.
Jason here again. RJ asked me to post this message from his cousin Wilson. To give you some context, read over the previous few blog entries.
Enjoy. And thanks, Wilson!
To those of you that have said nice things about my small show of support for my brother-cousin, thank you. He's what this is about however. To Nynaeve, you were absolutely spot on. He would have done the same to support me were the tables reversed.
I have read all your comments and well wishings and I sense that in your own ways, you love him as much as I do. That you have included sweet Harriet in your thoughts is most wonderful. Thank you for that. RJ is doing what few get to, pursue his passion. Parrot Heads will recognize the origin; most of us live as oysters. RJ on the other hand is a Pearl. Still, imagine the courage it takes to put your work out there for the entire world to critique. That you have embraced his imaginary world and him is humbling, but gratifying validation. However, I know the man, he would be doing the same, as a starving writer to a scant few as long as the publisher allowed. True, your devoted following has made it easier for him to pursue his craft, but pursue it he would regardless. And for making his road in life a bit easier to navigate, I again thank you.
We had a really great day together this past Saturday. Our dearest Harriet insisted that the boys needed to visit the local Harley shop to procure do rags for our chrome domes. RJ entered the showroom of gleaming road-ready American icons with a thunderous, "Holy Mamma! We're in Church!" Stopped people dead where they stood he did. Janet, my love and shade of my heart, found a camouflage do rag which the Vietnam Vet thought fit him most nicely. Then she happened upon a black rag with a luminescent blue pattern on it. She showed it to me and I announced that they were dragons. RJ's head popped from around the opposite side of the display and he queried quite like we were still adolescents, "Dragons?" Two left the shop and were soon upon our heads. Oh we did kick tires and discuss at length the merits of this or that bike. I longed for the Classic mid life comfort bike, bedecked of faring, chrome, CD player, et al. RJ offered that I might as well be riding in a car. In the end I think we were both eyeing the Soft Tail. But our favorite was the Fat Boy in a very stealthy new matte paint, Black Denim.
All the rattling about the Do Rags is for a reason. You, his loyal fans and supporters, know that this world that you so love has sprung from that amazing mind of his. Rand, for all his heroics is but a figment of my dear brother's imagination. RJ on the other hand, is now and has always been the Dragon. Seeing him wearing his dragon bedecked do rag only refocused me to that fact. When he called me with the news of the disease, he announced with calm resolve that it was there and that it was fatal. He also vowed to beat it. Heroes do that you know. He has shared the amyloid ordeal most openly with you all. Read between the lines of his postings and you will see that this was no small struggle. While he is setting all manner of records for an amyloid patient, we have yet to learn if the amyloids are truly gone for good. Time will tell. Pray, as I do, that they are. Dr. Hayman is truly of the yellow ajah. But, the medical treatments required to vanquish this unseen enemy damned near kills the patient. Thusly, RJ is back from near-death and reborn to us. Fantasy is just that. Reality is much more inspiring. I am here to proclaim loudly to all of you that my brother-cousin, my confidant, my friend, is indeed the Dragon Reborn. Long live the Dragon!
I should have a long list of thank-yous for folks who made donations to the Mayo in my name, but that will have to wait until next time because I left the pages with the laptop.
I'm sending Jason something to post, either here on the blog or elsewhere. It's from my brother/cousin Wilson. I thought a long time before deciding to include it. It's awfully laudatory. Besides, you don't think he writes stuff like that for free, do you?
I made it out in record time, and would have made it faster still except for a few little glitches. First off, I began having coughing jags that led to me passing out. Believe me, you do not want to hear your wife saying, "Stay with me, babe! Stay with me!" sounding like the damned medic on a medivac. Then they shunted me off to ICU for a night, and there was the incident of catheter slap-stick which resulted in me flat on the floor with a broken toe and a foot approximately one-half black, deciding that I would, after all, wait where I was until someone came to give me assistance. I reduced two groups of doctors to stitches, holding onto the wall to keep from falling down, by recounting that tale. But it's definitely rated NC-17, so not here.
In the end it all came down to sodium levels, would you believe. Mine were low, and if they didn't come up, I wouldn't be going home.
Can you say bacon?
I had no appetite, and still have no appetite, but I managed to get down five strips of bacon a couple of hours before my blood test, so I passed.
I ended up coming home on one of the Hormel Corporate jets. Not because I'm Robert Jordan or because Hormel had any idea who RJ is. There is a nifty organization in the country called Corporate Angels. Each week, corporations notify Corporate Angels of what the schedules are for their corporate jets, along with what seat vacancies they have available. CA then hooks these planes up with cancer patients, transplant patients and others with serious illness. It just so happened that Hormel's #2 man had a meeting in Charleston, so Harriet and I got free rides.
I am still fighting the appetite thing. Namely, I don't have one. Harriet has convinced me to try Ensure, which I must say is very near to the pits. I'm trying very hard to find other things to eat. I don't get very much of anything down -- I only weighed 227 this morning -- and I know I need to hit the protein, but t'ain't easy, McGee. T'ain't easy.
My cousin Wilson came down last weekend, and we went up to the big Harley shop on Dorchester Road, the one where a floor about twice the size of a basketball court is covered with new machines. The walls climb and climb and climb, and all the way up, six or seven up, they're lined with glass-fronted shelves that are full of classic Harleys, antique Harleys, you name it. Okay; they have a few Indians and the like up there, but we are talking 98% Harley here, and gorgeous. Stone cold gorgeous. And that's before you go back into the area where the mechanics work, which is about half again as large.
I'm leaning toward a Fat Boy with a Black Denim paint job (as close to matte-black as you are likely to get) and a blacked-out engine (almost no chrome showing at all!). The balance is sweet, and if I get the backroom boys to work over the engine a bit, she'll dig in and climb for the stars, I'm betting. This is the machine you ride into town sliding down the razor's edge of midnight. By the time they know you've been there, it's too late. If anybody asks you, RJ's done been here and gone. Apologies to Josh White.
Harriet's fighting me on this one. Which is to say, she hasn't said one word against the bike, but.... Those of you who are married to smart women know how this routine works. Luckily, she hasn't made this a hill. (A man who expects a long relationship needs to chose carefully the hills on which he is willing to die.) We'll have to see how it works out. Time is on my side. It will be August or September earliest before I am strong enough to actually ride. By that time, she'll assume she's won just because I've gone silent.
I will, however, be in Seattle and in Anchorage as promised, so don't worry about that. I'll post a few "boiled egg" pictures in a day or two, though I have considered them long and hard. I don't think anybody will tell me how good I look or how cool or anything like that. This is one ugly dude, boys and girls. Stone ugly. Harriet can lie all she wants to.
Well, I'm out of here for now, guys.
Jason here. RJ asked that I post the following pictures of his cousin Wilson. (See his other blog post to see what he was talking about) Here's the note he sent along with the photos:
Here are a couple of pictures of my Cousin Wilson which I would appreciate you posting. He is as close to me as a brother, and in fact has always been called the fourth of the three Rigney brothers. He is also the first to come through with the promise to shave his head when my hair fell out. In fact, he didn't wait. When I had my hair clippered, he had his shaved.
Is it just me or do the Rigney men have heads that are great for shaving?
BTW -- Sorry that it took me a few days to do this. I was out of town until today.
Okay, guys. This will be another short one. I don't have a lot of energy right now. But I want you to know I'm still kicking.
First off, a few thank yous. The Mayo Clinic -- Amyloidosis Research Program has acknowledged receipt of donations in my honor from Mr. Kevin Woulfe, Mr. Richard Maxton, Mr. Noam Krendel, Dr. Robert Kluttz, and Mr. Chris Peterson. My deepest thanks, and to you in particular, Bob.
The good news is my numbers are climbing. Five days ago I hit bottom, the nadir, what they call Ralph Day. Well, I call it that; it fits too well. Normal White Blood Cell count is between 3.5 and 10.5. Mine was 0.1, as expected. Can't really get any lower. Same the next day, followed by 0.2. Then 0.3. And today, 0.6. Some of the PAs are talking about the possibility of me going home before next weekend! That seems unlikely, but whatever come around, I'll grab the ring.
The loss of appetite progresses apace, in part because of the amount of antibiotics I'm getting. In any event, it isn't simply a matter of finding yummy food. Fried chicken? Yesterday I ate a drumstick and half a Dolly Parton chicken breast (a reference to size, not breed or brand), plus two immense apple fritters, the size of bullfrogs. Today, I thought about heating up two drumsticks from the same source for lunch, and it was close to stomach turning. Not actually nausea inducing; just imparting the certainty that this would be a very bad idea. Today? Breakfast was an orange, a bran muffin, and two glasses of milk, which has a lot more calories than coffee. Lunch was two apple sauce cups and a couple of cups of hot tea. The days change, you see. They do change.
I certainly think I feel less "sick" today than yesterday. On a 1 to 10 scale of how sick do you feel, yesterday was maybe 4, today maybe 3. Or maybe it was 5 and 4. But my energy level is about 2, as well. Overall, I feel like something you might scrape off the bottom of your shoe. Did I say that already? I hope not. Accurate, though.
I try not to complain, however. Staff tells me I am doing wonderfully well, with my counts recovering in remarkable fashion. I have so far dodged the nausea, which I'm told is unheard of. I have come this far without once being admitted to the hospital, which astonishes everyone here. And there is a woman here -- she was on the floor this morning when I went over for some IV antibiotics -- who got her stem cell transplant 30 days ago. But she hasn't begun engraphment, the growing of new bone marrow. When you think things are tough, look around. You'll see somebody who has it tougher. I guarantee it.
Some of you have asked abut my brothers and male relatives offering to shave their heads. Most have felt that since I did a voluntary slipping of my scalp, the pledge was not invoked yet. Good enough by me. The exception was Bill. Wilson is technically a cousin, but he has always been the fourth of the three Rigney brothers, and I'll tell you, I am as close to him as I am to my brother Reynolds, as close as I was my brother Ted. I could insert some pics here, but I will send them to Jason and let him post them.
For Sarah, I point out that I never expected Harriet to ride in a sidecar. She claims she wants to ride postillion so she can hang onto me. If we go with the bikes, I'll get her a bike of own and we'll see. Now what is this Scottish word? Then again, no. No. I have been ambushed too many times by white-haired grannies with pink-scrubbed cheeks and dewy-eyed schoolgirls whose skin was still moist with innocence. I'll not invite it.
For Egwene, yes, I read Ray and Janny's Empire Trilogy and enjoyed it. Harriet has been the editor from the beginning with these books, but she has never been a co-writer is any sense or I would have credited it. My women come from observation of women in the world around me ranging back to my family. You see, I started early. When I was no more than three or four my mother gave a garden party, and a friend of hers picked me up. It didn't feel like being picked up by mother or by a baby sitter. I remember feeling her soft summer dress slide against her skin. I recall the soft, floral scent of her perfume. My mother might have worn that perfume, but this woman did not smell as all like mother.
She bent to set me down, and her grip on me slipped. Now her dress was one of those summer dresses that buttoned up the front, and as her grip slipped, I slid down, burying my face in her cleavage. My head seemed about to burst with the scent of her. Then she had me upright again, and she laughed, and ruffled my hair, and called me precocious. Which I recall because I ran off to learn what it meant.
After that, I looked around at the boys and girls my age. When we were dressed differently, we were very different, but if we were all dressed alike, in khakis or cut-offs for crabbing or to help with the shrimping, there wasn't much difference at all in how we looked or acted. The thing was, I could see me growing into my father, but I could not see any of the girls growing into that woman who had picked me up. So I began studying these strange creatures. I'll say nothing of methodologies. I have spent more than one night being harried across the rooftops by a mob of women carrying torches and pitchforks. We say nothing of sickles, of whatever size. We will not speak of those.
In any event, along the way I came to some small understanding of a small part of what makes women tick, and this has allowed me to write women that women find to be real.
Oh, me. Me, oh, my, oh, file gumbo. I cannot be argued from this strong point, but then, I don't expect to argue anyone else from theirs, either. Gumbo is a West African word for the vegetable we call okra. A number of African words have passed into common usage in the south. For example, around Charleston, if you asked somebody if they ever cooked with sesame seed, they'd stare at you. Sesame seed is something they use in restaurants. But bennae, now. Oh, sure; there's bennae see all over.
File is used as a thickener in NOLA and vicinity, but there's hardly any need for it. Unless you've washed your okra until it is waterlogged, it will thicken the soup just nicely. Shrimp is all right, I suppose, but as much as I love shrimp -- and you will never meet a Charlestonian who doesn't love shrimp -- it is a pallid flesh to set against the spices of gumbo, much stronger than those of a remoulade sauce, the strongest acceptable accompaniment for shrimp. The same for crawfish, though I love crawfish in any number of other dishes. Just don't try to make me sit through a crawfish boil. The calories expended in getting the tails out and down your neck far exceeds the calories gained from the actual tails. It is like eating celery. There's no way to win, no way to break even, and no way to get out ahead of the game.
The only meat to use in true gumbo is smoked ham. The very best is the meat of the hock, but that does entail a good deal of work, plowing through a fair number of hocks to get enough meat. But it is the sweetest part of the smoked ham, and might have been created to meet the okra and tomatoes and spices.
I won't give you my own personal ground-up recipe for gumbo because then I'd have to hunt you all down and kill you. I intend to ask my assistant, Maria, to send me the recipe from Charleston Receipts, if there is one. Mind, some of these tell you to send the yard man to the market to purchase the terrapin because that is not the chauffeur's job.
For those who would like to try the quick and dirty version I make, remember that any purist will sneer at you for calling it gumbo. At least, they will until they come back for their second or third bowl. And when you want some approximation of gumbo on short notice and you have less than an hour to put into assembling your ingredients, it serves remarkably well.
Begin with 1 and a half to 2 pounds of 85% lean ground beef. Put this in the bottom of your pot and cover it with chicken broth, adding more broth as necessary. Stir this until the meat has broken up into tiny fragments. No lumps, no pieces; it should all be a broth of beef. Now add 6 to 8 cans of okra and tomatoes. These should be plain okra and tomatoes. You can add any spices you need to. Now. Drop in two tablespoons of salt. Add your red pepper. I use flake red pepper. As to amount, I make a mound on the palm of my hand and toss it in, but this may be too much for some people. Finally, for this quantity of soup, forty-fifty dashes of Tabasco sauce. You may want to moderate that, but I find most people will enjoy it at this level, though I will add more Tabasco in the bowl. Now bring it to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Let it cook for about an hour or until the liquid level in the pot has decreased by an inch or an inch and a half. Skim excess fat from the surface and dispose of. You want a touch of that grease left, just not too much. Serve as is or over rice, with fresh, barely cooked corn (Silver Queen is best of all) sprinkled over the surface, with piping hot corn bread. It's quick-and-dirty without a doubt, but it is also pure quill good.
For Zack, I was interested in Ayn Rand when I was in my 20's, but I think she is something that interests the young. Once you get a few years on you, you begin to see the flaws and holes. By the way, did you know that as a young man, Alan Greenspan was an acolyte sitting at the feet of Ayn Rand. Yes, the interest rate Johnny. It just goes to show you.
For those offering support and sympathy to Harriet, thank you ten thousand times over. She tells me that my job is to keep breathing, while she takes care of everything else. That is what they told us at the Clinic. But I have to keep an eye on her to see she doesn't overdo. As I've told her a couple of times, "If you fall over dead, babe, then I'm going to stop breathing anyway. So you won't be doing me any good." I wish that some of you might put together something for her along the lines of the Get-well Card that Wotmania did for me or the one that I understand Dragonmount is putting together. Remember. No Harriet, no me. No reason for me. So anything you can do for her in the way of support and sympathy would be greatly appreciated.
Well, this has turned out much longer than I expected, and I am tired. I want to try a bowl of soup and maybe get an hour nap before I have to head across the street for my evening appointment.
Take care, guys.
Until the next time,
Well, the appetite is beginning to slip, and last night was miserable. I wasn't sick, per se, but I felt as if I were about to become sick shortly and I couldn't sleep worth a damn. Oh, well. I'm still doing pretty well. I managed a good (if bland) supper last night and a decent breakfast this morning. I am beginning to look around for any possible sources of calories I can get down for the future. That does mean anything, dark chocolate bars, ice cream, peanut M&Ms, anything. I'm not looking forward to it. The last time I got sick enough to be on this sort of diet, I lost 13 pounds in ten days. I mean, I like peanut M&Ms, but how many of the bloody things can you eat?
For Steakley, if you're still hanging around, contact email@example.com, and he'll give you a direct e-mail to me. Mike Ford is arriving today, and there are some others in line, but you'd be most welcome for a few days later on. Chattacon, now. That was long ago when the world was green, now wasn't it? As I recall, I handed your clothes over to the young woman behind the front desk at the same time that I reported the possible presence of a naked and very drunk (remember that Lone Star belt buckle, about the size of a Mack Truck tire?) exceedingly drunk Texan wandering the halls of the hotel. I did learn that the Chattanooga PD had a tranquilizer-gun team for dealing with bears and the like that got into the city, and it seemed to be that you certainly qualified, but she was ratcheted to a whole new level. At least I was able to talk her out of calling the SWAT; she had been told about the previous night, John. That sort of word spreads. Neither police departments nor fire departments nor municipal zoos keep quiet in circumstances like those. She took the garments using tongs, as I remember. I thought she had returned to them to you the next morning, though that might have been a different morning and the young lady from the night before. Ah, yes; the good old days of youthful innocence, when unicorn horn went for a dollar a pound.
Harriet just leaned over my shoulder to read and said, "Huh! You were never innocent, sport. And you were smuggling unicorns."
For Chris Dalby, I wouldn't think of playing tricks on the staff here. At least, not beyond occasionally, when someone asks me to spell my name for identification purposes, spelling it R-i-c-h-a-r-d N-i-x-o-n or the like. No more than that. These guys are trying to keep me alive.
And for David Litwin, I've been in Montreal before on tour, and expect that sooner or later I'll be there again.
And now I am going to prepare some quick-and-dirty gumbo, Charleston-style, which is the only real gumbo. I mean, file? Roue? Okra thickens the broth just fine, thank you. And shrimp?!?!?!? In gumbo? Well, I eat it when I'm in NOLA, but even my brother and nephew, who live there, can't convince me that it's really gumbo. The question will be whether, having made the gumbo, I can actually manage to eat it here and now. We shall see. Yes, indeed we shall.
I told you this was going to be very brief. So long for now, guys.
I received some additional acknowledgments from the Mayo of people who have sent money in honor of James O. Rigney, so here goes. My deepest thanks to Mr. Michael Nemeth, Mr. Ryan Tibbetts, Mr. Steven Odden and Mr. Spencer Martin. I really can't say how much this means to me.
One thing I should point out is that won't receive an acknowledgement, and you won't get one either, not from me, if you send money in honor of Robert Jordan. Their patient is James O. Rigney, and they don't have a clue in the world who Robert Jordan is. Well, most don't.
Now, just a few tidbits, since there really isn't much happening here. I'm reading an old Tom Sharpe novel, Ancestral Vices, while waiting for a cousin to arrive for a visit, and the book is hilarious.
To Lynn, I'm sorry I missed you while you were here in Rochester. One of the nurses, Ken, told me that another SCT recipient was on the floor for a visit while I was getting my transplant, but not that you were a fan, or I'd have asked to see you. I'm sure they would have let you mask up and come in, if masking was even necessary at that point.
For Roxinos, you are exactly right. The correct phrase is Illegitimei non carborundum, and I can only blame inattention and a small keyboard on my laptop. Yes, I know that keyboards are so cheap I can buy one when I'm traveling and toss it when I head home, but it still makes one more thing to look after.
For NaClH2O, I like the idea of an Indian -- my father rode one a long time back, and a fellow down the street has a magnificent red one -- but I'm not sure Harriet would approve of a sidecar. I think she'll want her own bike. Lacquered in appropriate Wonder Woman colors and motif to suit her, I'd say.
I see that Deadsy is deep in discussion of my underwear again. Child, child.... Oh, well. A few words for your shell-like ear, Deadsy. Plain black or plain white, pure cotton or pure silk, but never red,or blue or any of those other suggestions. Those are for toyboys and pimps.
See you around, guys. And the last word for the day is, so far, so good. In fact, splendid.
I've received some further acknowledgements of donations to the Mayo Amyloidosis Research in my name, and I'd just like to thank Ms Joanna Stampfel, Ms Lelon White, Mr. Ryan Kelly, Gospodin Dzmitry Ludzik, Mr. Steven Rowell, and Ms. Krisztina Radnoti. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Also, many thanks to all of you who have posted about your own experiences with severe illness and chemo. Chemo treatments are all different, but I appreciate your posts. You are all fighters, or you wouldn't still be here.
Well, I got the stem cells transplant yesterday, and so far all seems to be going well. I essentially have no immune system right now and have to wear a mask whenever I leave the hotel room, but I actually feel pretty good. Of course, they told me that would be the case. In 4 or 5 days, when my white blood cells count hits bottom, I'll start to bottom out myself. Doctor Hayman suggested I might get sick enough that I wouldn't want to dress any further than sweat clothes, but I won't give in that far. I brought along almost every French cuff shirt I have, plus a dozen pairs of cuff links and a dozen pairs of braces, and I mean to look as sharp as I can every day no matter how I feel. When the disease pushes, I push back.
Don't worry that I'll be keeping you up to date on exactly how sick I get or anything of that nature. I'd have to be a lot sicker than I am to do that.
The skinhead look seems to meet with a good bit of approval. Should I adopt that? Get the salamander tattoo and arrive at signings on a Harley. Fat Boy or Soft Tail? Not one of those new ones that try to look like a BMW, though. Maybe I should just go for a Japanese crotch rocket and blow into town at 200 mph. Well, even those need a little work to hit 200, but they'll leave a Harley in the dust for sure. No hate mail, please. I love Harleys, but I needed to go really fast, I'd be riding Japanese or Italian if stock.
Some of you seem a little confused over what I mean by a salamander. My walking stick for black tie has a silver head which most people think is simply a lizard with malachite eyes. Only close observation will show that the lower half of the lizard is actually flames. The salamander, the lizard that lives in fire. The ancients believed that asbestos was salamander skin, that salamanders were fire elementals, and even that salamanders were the guardians of the gates of hell. In any case, they have always been seen as symbols of survival under adverse conditions, able to walk through the fires of hell unharmed. Of course, a group of us were going to get salamander tattoos during an R&R in Hong Kong. I was too drunk to make the appointment, and I was the only one who made it back to the world, but I figure that was coincidence.
For Rachel, the phoenix is the female symbol of power in Chinese cosmology as the dragon is of male power, so a phoenix wouldn't do for me. Although there is a phoenix among the symbols carved into my Chinese chair, which you may have seen in Faces of Fantasy and elsewhere.
Deadsy, a backflap and footies? Never in life, my dear. Nor in death, for that matter. Also, chains and leather are so fifties, so post-Terminator, so rough trade. Not my look at all. I think I'll go a different route.
An aside. When I speak of so many million stem cells, that refers to that number per kilogram of body mass.
For Child of Lir, most hospitals by far in the US do not have wifi or first run movies. The Mayo Clinic is most definitely top drawer.
For Doctor, I've pretty much settled on channeling, if that is the proper word, myself. It seems to work. Although that first day, at lunch, I did slip briefly into Brando from Apocalypse now, and I must say that afterward we could carry on a pleasant conversation at our table without any bother from brainless chatter from tables around us. I may keep that one in reserve.
That's about it for now.
Remember guys, Illegitimei no carborundum!
Hi everyone -- No, this is not Robert Jordan writing. I am invading his blog in order to upload some pictures that he asked me to pass along. I've not quite figured out a way to have him post this many pictures directly to his blog.
Here they are: the eagerly-awaited before and after pictures. Click each image to see the larger version.
The first batch of pictures he sent along were all of the "Before" pictures (with hair). In reference to those Before pics, RJ wrote the following:
Here are some pictures you can post when and as you want. Please give a photo credit line for William P. McDougal to all of the pictures except the one of three of us. That photo show my cousin Wilson, on the right, my younger brother Reynolds, in the middle, and me standing in front of a portrait of Harriet that hangs in our dining room.
The other pics are partly of me before starting the chemo and partly of me after my first chemo, after I decided not to wait for the hair to start going in patches. I went straight to the barber and told him to take it all off except the beard.
The "After" pictures were sent shortly after that. Photo credits for those also go to William P. McDougal.
I just got some mail from Brad Condray and "all the Maniacs at wotmania," pages and pages of get well messages. And never a troll in the lot of them. Thanks, guys. I can't tell you what it means. Thanks a lot.
PS Had my first chemo this morning, and though they say the side effects won't kick in for a few days, I have to say, so far, so good.
PPS I decided not to wait on my hair falling out in patches. First visit after leaving chemo was a barber shop where I told the man to take it all off except for the beard. Harriet came in shortly after he was done. And she didn't recognize me! Okay, it was from the back, but you don't think I'm going to let her forget it, do you? I'll get some pics out as soon as I can.
PPPS I was thinking, if I get a total shave and a wax job, plus a tattoo up the back of my neck (not a dragon. I'm thinking a salamander), this could be a whole new look for me.
A running commentary on the Mayo Clinic. I had intended to post before this, but it didn't work out. This began life as bits and pieces and notes I intended to use. It turned into something a little different. Sorry about that. I hope it's coherent.
The first week has been interesting. If you find needles interesting. There have been other sorts of tests – X-rays literally of every bone in my body; a pulmonary function test with me coughing all over the place and the tech sighing and saying "Well, let's try again then;" vast collections of urine – but mainly it has been the needles. I've been pursued by people with needles from dawn until sunset at the least. Sometimes they don't hold to those limits. At one point I was sent back to a particular station because the phlebotomist had drawn only a quart and not the quart and a half that had been in the orders. God's truth. I swear. Still, they say I seem to be healthy. For somebody in my condition, anyway.
I've gotten two bits of outstanding news. As of two months ago, my heart wall had thickened to 17mm rather than the normal 10-13 mm. On one side that has now shrunk to 14 mm. This is unheard of and has evoked murmurs of measuring errors, which I don't see Mayo making. The other bit isn't open to any arguments. The ejection fraction is the percentage of the blood in the heart which is ejected each time the heart contracts. Normal is 50%-65%. Two months ago mine was 48%. It is now 67%!
Second week began with getting an Ash Split shunt put in my chest. I wanted to avoid this, but the nurse-coordinator convinced me that it's going to be necessary come time for chemo and re-implanting the stem cells, so I decided to go ahead and get something that will do not only for those things but for blood samples, the necessary transfusions and so forth. I now have a couple of tubes dangling from my chest on the upper right side, with the far end going directly into my jugular vein. I've been telling people at home that I have a tap on the side of my neck leading straight to my jugular, and that this is attracting a great deal of attention from the Goths on staff, not to mention the vampire wannabes. The tap may be a joke, but the Goths and vampires, now.... You can tell from the way they lick their lips when they look at your neck.
The unit I'm working with really does have vampires. Witness all that blood gathering. And they always want to start it before the sun is up, meaning they're safely indoors come sunrise. They call themselves BMT, for Bone Marrow Transplant, but I have deduced the real name. Bacon, Marrow and Tomato. They're good people, very conscientious, but be careful if you have lunch with them. Very careful.
From then on it's been a matter of getting injections of growth factor twice a day to stimulate growth of bone marrow stem cells, and in between spending five hours a day hooked up to an a-pharesis machine for harvesting stem cells. The area isn't too bad, really. WiFi is available, plus small TVs with first run movies. Harriet can sit by my bed so we can talk, or read. My plan is to stick to books, mainly, and maybe get off a blog entry to you guys.
The Ash Split didn't go in so smoothly as I hoped. I woke up about midnight Monday night, the first, and found a damp patch of blood on my bedsheet about the size of a dinner plate with another on my pajama top. (For Deadsy, this is being worn only to protect the shunt; I don't wear pajamas. That ought to settle her down for a week or so. Or maybe get her hyperventillating?) Needless to say, with the end of the tubes in my jugular, I was a little concerned. We went over to Rochester Methodist, the hospital attached to the clinic, where I had the dressing changed. Three times before we got the bleeding quieted down. It's never simple with me. Harriet likes to point that out from time to time. But then, I told her if she married me, it would never be boring.
That meant no sleep to speak of before heading into my first day of collection. I slept instead of messing with the computer or reading. Slept after I got back to the hotel. Collapsed after dinner and went to sleep at about 8:30. A few more bleeding problems on day two, plus I slept again. That begins to get on your nerves after a bit.
Got some explanation from the collection staff about why I've been so tired. For one thing, the effects of the growth factor, over-stimulating the bone marrow's production of stem cells, is extremely tiring in itself. On top of that, the machine pulls all of the blood out of your body roughly three times and pumps it back in. During this five hour process your cardiovascular system tries to maintain a steady blood pressure. It can't because all of the values are shifting constantly, but it keeps trying. The result is that each day is the equivalent of running a marathon. Two marathons down in two days, and we'll see how many to come. I can't really think of much besides when I can go back to sleep. Have to get my head straight. Can't let it go on like this. Straighten up and soldier, soldier.
This is getting a little jumbled together as I go back and make additions or corrections. I'm not sure I can keep the time line straight myself. Sorry about that. In Australia a while back I was mad enough to sign up for a hike to the Valley of the Winds, not far from Uluru. We made it in and out in a little over two hours, each of us with a liter of water, and only then did I see the sign which cautioned hikers to allow a minimum of two hours for the hike EACH way and drink a minimum of one liter of water per hour. Before heading in, the guide told us that she sometimes forgot that the people she was leading weren't as fit as she was. "So do try to keep up," she said. I'd get the time line straight if I could, guys, if I had time, but in the meanwhile, do try to keep up.
For the basic transplant, they want 4 million stem cells. Using 8 million or 12 doesn't do any better. They will go with as little as 2, but they don't really like it. I asked what the top one day collection was and was told that, very rarely, somebody produced over 20 million. That was my first day goal, but I missed it badly. 4.17 million. My doctor, Suzanne Hayman, has signed off for a collection of 8 million, but I'm arguing. Not for 20, now, but for 12-16 million. That would give me a full transplant with two or even three in the freezer just in case. They very seldom do a second transplant for amyloidosis, and have never done a third, but given the rapidity with which the treatments change, I want to be ready for anything.
Doctor Hayman signed off for 12 million. She says she's happy to go with 3 million for a base transplant. We're on track and running hot and true.
Got my second day collection report. Barely 2 million. I'm going to have to pick up the pace. Dr. Hayman won't approve an increase in the growth factor. I understand even if I don't like it. It does have its side effects. They'll only listen to me so far as to what risks I'm willing to take.
Third day collection reports in. Only a little over 1 million. Looks as if I'm definitely on the downhill slope of production. There's still a chance, though. Production can fluctuate. Additional bad news. I put on ten pounds yesterday. That's fluid retention, one of the side effects of growth factor. I've been fighting that with lasix, keeping the weight under control pretty much. Until now.
Trouble breathing on the night of the third collection day. Couldn't get to sleep. The fluid presses on the diaphragm, so the lungs can't work properly. Harriet got me across the street to the hospital where they put me on oxygen for the night. Tomorrow (fourth day; today, actually), will be the key. Can I pull up my production numbers?
Fourth day production numbers in. I'm down to 700,000 plus. Time to face facts. The number will continue to drop. In a day or two they'll tell me the tests show I won't make the minimum number for harvesting. I'm not going to make 12 million, much less 16. And they're giving me extra lasix to help control the weight, though so far it just seems to be helping me hold my own. The growth factor could very easily put me into congestive heart failure with the fluid retention. Been there, did that, didn't like it. Time to pull the plug, says I.
They don't let you know anything discouraging before they have to around this place. God bless them. Turns out my 8.6-8.7 million wasn't so bad after all. Turns out that a lot of amyloidosis patients can barely make 4 total. Turns out a lot of them can barely make 2. Seems I didn't do too badly after all. Hey, the kid can always pull it out when he needs to. Bring it on, Jack. Bring it on.
The weekend is mine, except for a few blood tests and some fragmin (blood thinner) shots. I don't think I'm up to Easter services -- plus, I have to get some blood tests dones during the hours of services -- but I've made reservations to take Harriet to Easter brunch. And Will. Our son has flown out to visit for a week. God, it's good to see him.
Monday I have interviews with various doctors and others. The reason, I think, is to give me a final thumbs up for the chemo, to begin on Tuesday. Knock wood.
Looking around me here, I see a lot I'd like to think I would have noticed before, but I'm not sure I would have. I remember Harriet exclaiming in horror at Feng Du, in China, when the tide of crippled beggars came flopping toward the boat landing like a tide of Medieval horror. I barely blinked. They weren't the first crippled beggars I'd seen. But day or so ago I saw a young woman pushing an older woman in a wheelchair while leading a younger woman (her sister? Her daughter?) by the hand. It was painfully obvious that the youngest woman, the girl, was mentally challenged. Some people just get handed loads that can't be called fair in any sense of the word. But both older women were smiling. I've talked a lot about fighting, but I'm not the only one by a long country mile. You can pick them out, sometimes. The elderly man with a few wisps of white hair shuffling along behind his IV tree, mask in place and eyes fixed on something ahead. The little girl huddled in her wheelchair clutching her stuffed bear as she is pushed from one appointment to the next. And her eyes are so big. As big as half her face. She ain't here to get a hangnail clipped, Jack. This place is chock full of fighters. I'm proud to be in their company.
Had a letter from the Mayo forwarded to me. Seems some of you have given money on the name of James Rigney. I'd like to thank Mr. Chris Mardle, Mr. Matthew Longland, Mr. T.J.Rowe, Mr. Fredrik Trobo, Mr. Dennis Clark, Ms Krista Baker, Mr. Phillip Johnston, Mr. Kenneth Spores, and Mr. Thane Hecox. Thanks to you all very much, truly from the bottom of my heart.
Had my interviews with the doctors. I'm good to go. Tomorrow morning, 9 am. Let's boogey. Let's boogey.
First off, many, many thanks to all of you who have offered your prayers and/or good wishes. There are far too many of you, both here on the blog and elsewhere, for me to acknowledge you all individually, but believe me, you have my thanks.
I promised you some answers before I go off to Mayo, so I will give you some here. A few.
For Sidious, thanks very much for posting the overview of amyloidosis, but after conferring with my hematologist, I have to disagree with you on one point. You say that amyloidosis cannot be stopped, but it can be. The treatments have altered and progressed tremendously in the past ten years, and even in the last five. The best result obtainable would be a total remission, a complete cessation of amyloid production. But even a sufficient decrease in production can lead eventually to a decrease of the quantity of amyloids deposited in my heart. There are a lot of quirks in this thing, it seems. As an example of just how atypical amyloidosis can be, I offer this link to a survivor's story:
Amyloidosis offers very peculiar symptoms, and very peculiar responses to treatment.
For Emma, and some others who urge me not to give up, I have stolen a mantra from Lance Armstrong and adapted it to me. "Amyloidosis picked the wrong body to hang around in. That punk should never have climbed into the ring with me. No retreat, no surrender. That mother is going down for the count. He is going down." Sounds corny, but I can picture amyloidosis now. It looks a lot like Sonny Liston before he fought Ali the first time, back when Ali was still Cassius Clay. Liston was considered unstoppable. More than that, he looked unstoppable. He looked meaner than mean. Liston frightened everybody. In fact, he was mean enough that Ali went into that fight afraid. Look at the films if you don't believe me. Ali won, but he didn't expect to. I think he expected Liston to demolish him. Well, I look at amyloidosis and I see Sonny Liston with his shaved head and his stone-cold killer's stare and his face that not even his own mother could have imagined with a smile. Only I know he can be beaten. That punk should never have climbed into the ring with me.
Various folks have asked about making donations, and I see that Jason at Dragonmount has already put up the information about donating to the Mayo Clinic Amyloidosis Program. Thanks, Jason. I think its best to keep the giving centered at one place. That way there is more chance of it having an effect. Maybe for me and maybe not, but remember what I said. Amyloids pop up in all sorts of places, and it is entirely possible that amyloid research will eventually lead to a cure, or at least an effective treatment, for Alzheimer's. Your donation may just help with that, and that would be something to feel special about.
For Gerald Clay, who is Doctor House? The name isn't familiar to me.
Perrab asks whether it was the pipesmoking. No, not at all. At one point recently, when they were trying to find out why I had a cough, I not only got two chest X-rays in one week but also a CAT scan of my chest. It turns out that despite all of my years smoking pipes and cigars I could be a poster boy for clean lungs. They are absolutely sterling! I'm thinking of licensing the film to Switzerland, Sweden, Iceland, various Rocky Mountain resorts and other places that supposedly have clean air. I am talking pristine!
A few people seem confused over what I mean by saying that I need thirty years to complete the books in my head. That entails a lot more than The Wheel of Time. There is A Memory of Light, of course, the last main sequence novel of WoT, plus two more short prequel novels. Then there are, possibly, three "outrigger" novels set in the WoT universe. There are the two trilogies of Infinity of Heaven, set in quite another universe. Plus there are several other novels and a handful of novellas that are set in neither universe. A few of them are actually set in our own universe, though not always without a twist. So there are a fair number, even to spread out over 30 years.
Several people wonder whether I'm upset over the possibility of losing my hair, or counsel me not to be upset. I'm not upset. One of the things I've noticed as being a possible help in all of this is that you make light of what you can make light of while saving the heavy work for where heavy is needed. Losing your hair is a sort of rite connected to chemo. I shall be a little disappointed if I don't lose my hair, most especially since I have conned a number of male relatives into promises that they will shave their heads when and if I lose my hair. The chance of seeing that whole lot bald as so many eggs might be enough to make me shave my head if the chemo doesn't do the job. Yes, I think it just might be enough. Keep this under your collective hats, okay? I'd hate for any of them to find out and spoil the joke.
For Pat, who asked subtly, yes, I am, but like my father and grandfather before me, I don't advertise. We like to believe that no man in this country should feel in danger because of his beliefs, but times change. History tells us that, even here. Political practices we see as unthinkable were carried out as a matter of course by Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Who can say what tomorrow will bring, or next year, or next decade? So should you ask me again, I have no idea what you are talking about unless you are inside the walls of a Lodge.
I am taking a great many books with me to Mayo. There is a B&N not far from our hotel, but on the evidence, I, at least, may not feel up to much in the way of book shopping. So I'll finally get around to reading Erickson, and I'll have a tall stack of mysteries and thrillers, many of them older books by John Dickson Carr and Carter Dickson (the same fellow, for those who don't know; the master of the sealed room murder). Mainly I'll be setting myself up to laugh as much as possible, though, so I have a large number of Terry Pratchett novels, plus Donald Westlake (with apologies to Terry, the funniest man currently writing in the English language), P.G. Wodehouse and Tom Sharpe, an Englishman now deceased, I believe, but with a sense of humor so skewed and a world-view so outre that Carl Hiassen seems flat and ordinary by comparison. And I like Hiassen a lot. A number of his books are in that carton already winging its way to our hotel in Rochester.
Since we can't read all the time, and no one really wants to watch television much more than they absolutely must, we have also sent up a Scrabble set, a backgammon board, a go board (though we will play go-moku, the simple version for teaching children) and a set of Apples to Apples, a game that Mike Ford and Elise Matthesen introduced us to.
For A'rrien, my prayers go out to you and your wife. I hope that she is getting better and recovering swiftly. I find it remarkable under the circumstances that you were willing to put even five minutes into posting to my blog.
For Jen, whose mother had a bad reaction to Reglan after an ASCT, thank you very much for the information, both from your comment on the blog and from the e-mail forwarded to me by a mutual friend. I have printed out the information you sent, and it will go with me to the Mayo among my papers. Again, thank you very much.
Several people have cautioned me against planning to make the June trips when I'll be having the chemo in April, but I intend to make that trip if I need a wheelchair to get on and off the airplane and a chair to sit in to fish. That is part of my commitment. No retreat, no surrender. From day one, I push back. Amyloidosis picked the wrong body to hang out in. Come late June, I'll be there in Seattle, and in Anchorage, and if I have to wear a mask, that's just fine, because I WILL be there.
Well, there are a whole slew more questions waiting in the stack, but I am going to knock off for the afternoon. Tomorrow, Harriet and I leave for Minnesota, but my younger brother Reynolds arrived night before last, my close cousin Wilson arrived yesterday afternoon, and another cousin, Tom III, is expected to arrive any moment. It will be the first time in about 25 years that all four of us have been together. We are all having dinner at a good steakhouse tonight, and I'm looking forward to it.
Some of you may be wondering why I've come out and told you so much about is going on with me. It's simple, actually. Over the years I've done my best to stomp on false rumors about my health, or about me having been hit by a bus or the like. As near as I can figure, rumor has had me dead about three times, possibly four, and near death's door at least that often. So I looked at this in two ways. One, this was all going to be a prime source of rumors once word began leaking out. And it would leak out. So I might as well start the damage control early. Two, since I had stomped all over those earlier rumors, maybe I owed it to you to come clean from the start. Between the two points, I decided I would be open. I'll post from time to time at Mayo, though I won't make promises about how often or at what length. There will be times when I'm too sick to post; that much is a given. There will be other times when what I might have to post would be nothing you care to read. I do promise that I'll try not to bore you.
So until my first post from the Mayo Clinic, you guys take care.
All my best,
Well, guys, the letter in Locus is indeed from me. I had hoped to be a little more focused with this and get a post up here before anything came out in Locus, or anywhere else public, so you would get it first, but I flat forgot that Charles has his on-line version of Locus now, too. Sorry about that.
Don't get too upset, guys. Worse comes to worst, I will finish A Memory of Light, so the main story arc, at least, will be completed. And frankly, as I said, I intend to beat this thing. Anything can be beaten with the right attitude, and my attitude is, I have too many books to write yet for me to just lie down. Don't have time for it. Besides, I promised Harriet I'd be around for our 50th, and that means another 25 years from this month right there. Can't break a promise to Harriet, now can I?
I had intended to go on with a few answers to questions when I made this post (I see some interesting ones), but that will have to wait, I'm afraid. I have a few other things to get done first. Maybe I'll be able to get that up this afternoon or tomorrow. No promises, though. Before I go to Mayo, though, I promise. And updates from the Mayo as I can manage.
Oh, yes. When the hair goes, with the chemo -- as it is very likely to do -- I'll post some before and after shots, just so people showing up in Seattle and Anchorage won't think we've run in a ringer. Yes, I plan to keeping those signings in late June. The chemo and recuperation should be finished by mid-to-late May, so I can make it. Hey, there will be big salmon running in Alaska at that time, and I never passed up a chance at big fish in my life.
Again, sorry that you got the news in such a raggedy fashion. I really did mean to handle things more smoothly.
Take care, guys. Until the next time.
All my best,
Sorry about the long stretch without a post, guys, but things were a little hectic here for a time. That has a tendency to happen, especially around the Holidays.
I've noticed here and there that some of you have caught errors -- sometimes mine, sometimes printers' errors -- and commented on them. When you do that, would you please give the chapter where you found the error and also the edition -- American, British, hardcover, trade paperback etc -- as well as the title, and the printing if you can. You can find the printing number on the same page with the copyright notice. In the American editions, there will be a line of numbers at the bottom of that page, something like this:
15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7
The last number in that line on the right is the number of that book's printing.
In the British editions, the entire printing history is given on the copyright page, a list of which years reprints occurred and how many times during that year.
That helps me to find where the error is located, if there is one. For example, somebody said that he or she found Verin channeling saidin in Lord of Chaos. Check as I can, I cannot find that anywhere in the book, and neither can my assistant Maria. Maybe it is there, but I can't find it.
I haven't been giving RAFOs much of late, mainly because some of you put entirely too much weight on that answer. Sometimes I give it because I intend to or might use something involving the answer in a future book and I don't want to give it away ahead of time. Sometimes I say RAFO because the answer, while not particularly important in and of itself, will give clues toward something I want to remain hidden a while longer. Rather than start empty arguments, I'm going to be sparing with the RAFOs, at least here in the blog.
For various folk, I will write the two additional prequel novels eventually, but I can't say exactly when. If the idea I have for the outrigger novels proves strong enough to actually do those, I'll probably do them first if for no other reason than they would be more complex and thus, to me, more interesting.
The list of questions that look to me as if they deserve answers keeps building up. At the moment, it stands at 110 pages. I'll answer as many as I can, but who can say whether I'll ever reach the bottom of the list?
For Anonymous (Arctice), who wants to know why the MMORPG was canceled, I'm assuming you mean the online version of the PC game. The computer game was a victim of corporate takeovers, I'm afraid. Legend/GTI did the original game, which got extremely good reviews, and they were eager to go on to do further games and also add-in modules for the first game. Plus there were to be the online "tournament" versions, as I seem to recall them being referred to back then. In the middle of all the furor, suddenly all I was getting from Legend/GTI was silence. When I finally made contact with them again, I learned that they had been bought by a French company and told to go in a new direction. I asked what that direction was and learned that they'd been told, "You'll know it when you find it." I haven't seen a game from Legend/GTI since and my royalty statements for the game come from Nintendo now. The rights have actually reverted to me, and shortly the extended period I gave them to dispose of games in stock will also expire, so if anybody out there happens to own a gaming company....
If that isn't what Anonymous (Arctice) was talking about, I apologize. You will have to elucidate further.
Now, somebody says that I said I am conversational in Spanish and French and can read German. I didn't say exactly that since it isn't exactly true. I used to be able to get along fairly well in Spanish and French, and when I spend a week or ten days in France my French starts coming back. I think the same might happen if I spent some time where Spanish is spoken. Long, long ago I could read German after a fashion, but I was intent on being able to read papers in physics and mathematics, so I could barely slog my way through a German menu, something I wouldn't want to even attempt now. I know very little Russian, mainly obscenities and curses. Purely soldier's Russian, you might say. Frankly, I was more fluent in Vietnamese than in Russian, and my Vietnamese was never more than enough to get by.
For Heartclaw, I doubt I'll ever write any further books about the Fallon family, but who knows? Let's just call it very unlikely.
For NaClH2O, a quiet word in your shell-like ear. Hoppin' John does NOT use black-eyed peas. Only someone who's from away, or even from off, would say such a thing. Cow peas, also called field peas or red peas in some regions, but NEVER black-eyed peas. And don't forget the other requirements, collard greens and benne seeds (sesame seeds for most people; benne is the West African word, used locally here). The smoked pork, preferably from the ham hock, should be in the Hoppin' John, of course.
For ben, of course women can be ta'veren. None of the major female characters in the books is ta'veren, though. The Wheel doesn't cast ta'veren around indiscriminately. There has to be a specific reason or need. (I tossed in the "major" just to leave you something to argue about.)
For kcf, the Terry Pratchett/J.K.Rowling broo-haha seems much overblown to me. J.K.Rowling said some silly things to which Terry made sensible replies only to have the headlines alter what he had said. And then the headline writers tried to cover themselves by altering the headlines online. Neil Gaiman, as near as I can make out, pointed this out. Enough said, and I wouldn't have dipped a toe in even if the sell-by date wasn't long past.
For Anonymous (The Grey Jedi), the sword forms are all my creations, but they, and their names, are patterned on sword forms used by the Japanese and Chinese. No, I am not a student of any of these sword forms. I own books illustrating a fair number of them, however.
For kolp, Oberonus and NaClH2O, what Taim did to those Saldaeans wasn't Compulsion. They just don't have the intelligence left that would be needed for anything too exacting.
For mmwhiterose, Siuan was raised to the Amrylin Seat so young for several reasons, most of which I have pointed out pretty clearly in the books, I think. The preceding years had seen a number of Amrylins die after only a short time in office. In New Spring: the Novel I showed one reason why the pool of potential Amrylins, Aes Sedai with experience, was reduced over part of that same period. And then there was the impasse over several candidates, none of whom could gain enough support, so that Siuan became a compromise candidate who was raised in part because various Sitters thought they could influence or control such a young Amrylin. Just as it is unusual for a sister to be raised to Sitter before she had worn the shawl for a hundred years, it is unusual for a sister to be raised to the Amrylin Seat short of having worn the shawl for a hundred and fifty to two hundred years, and above two hundred years is most common.
For NapoleonCoplin, the part of a Dreamer that enters Tel'aran'rhiod can be thought of as the Dreamer's consciousness, but it is any case not corporate. That is, it has no physical reality outside of Tel'aran'rhiod. A Dreamer might make a gateway from the Unseen World to the Waking World, but there would be nothing physical that could step through and exist outside of the Unseen World.
For Anonymous, there is a map of the entire world in the Guide, and also a map of the entire continent that holds Andor etc. Shara lies on that continent, east of the Aiel Waste. The inhabitants of this world think of there world as "the world" or as "the Earth." While there have been cultures on our planet that have given fanciful names to their worlds, most have referred to it as the world or earth.
For those who think I might log into a WoT chat room, forget about it. I browse the message boards periodically, but my time at my computer goes into writing.
For Wristrule, now and then a book gets bound upside down. They aren't really rarities of any sort. At least, not to any great degree. Thanks for the offer, though.
For those of you who think the razor that Mat gave to Tuon is a zebra, it isn't. I was thinking of a horse I once saw a picture of, an American paint, which in memory seemed to fit my description (white meeting black along dead-straight lines) very closely. In fact, the memory fit so well that I decided not to check whether the actual horse looked the way I recalled it. The recollection made a terrific image.
For Majsju, the oath against lying does leave room for sarcasm. It is intent and result that matter. No sister can intentionally speak an untruth either with the intent of passing on false information or with the belief that false information might be passed on. Thus the careful slicing and dicing of words. But if someone were to hold up a piece of white cloth and ask whether it was black or white, someone who had sworn the Three Oaths would be capable of saying that it was black as a matter of sarcasm. But not if, for example, the person asking the question was blind and thus might well take the statement for truth rather than sarcasm.
Various people have commented on Egwene being dumb with Rand, in particular contrasting how Pevara leaped immediately to a conclusion that he was ta'veren where the same information took Egwene to possible Compulsion. Pevara has a clean slate regarding Rand. Insofar as Compulsion goes, to her it is a forbidden weave, suppressed so effectively among women who come to the Tower that despite the fact that many wilders have some form of it as their first weaving, by the time the White Tower is done with them many of those same women can no longer make the weave nor, in some cases, even recall how to. How, then, does this young man come by Compulsion? Much more possible, however unlikely, that he is ta'veren. Egwene, on the other hand, grew up with Rand. She largely evaded the training that would have set the same thoughts regarding Compulsion in her head that Pevara has. Whatever Egwene has learned about Rand and now knows intellectually, there is a core of her that says he is Rand al'Thor rather the Dragon Reborn, or least before being the Dragon Reborn, and if Rand were in any way ta'veren, surely she would have noticed it during their years growing up. On the other hand, he has surprised her, and others, with abilities and knowledge of weaves, such as Traveling, that they didn't expect. If he is pulling strange weaves out of nowhere, who is to say that Compulsion isn't among them? It would certainly fit the information, after all.
For Isabel, hi, cutey. Regarding the scene at Dumai's Wells, the places they had Traveled to were not in the safety of the wagon-circle, where they were, but beyond it, among the Shaido. As for Illian, I was too crude in reinforcing something I had established earlier and wanted to reinforce, i.e. that you do not need to know a spot at all to Travel from it if the place you want to travel to is only a short distance away. Regarding Sharina, and other women who learn to channel at age, she will indeed grow younger in appearance. No, she will not achieve an Aes Sedai face without the Oath Rod, but where she has previously looked, say, sixty, she will look perhaps thirty-five, with accompanying changes in hair color. Think of it as analogous to slowing, which older women also do.
Now, regarding knives and the use and throwing of same. For NaClH2o and File Leader both, the blade length depends. I just did a quick survey around my desk and environs, coming up with six knives that qualify if you allow the one-piece Ek with the parachute-cord wrapped hilt. The balance of it is just right. All have at least a slight protuberance demarcating the end of blade/beginning of hilt or vice versa. Blade length varies from five inches to seven inches. The protuberance is all you need to keep your hand off the blade in a fight, really, and as for blade length, you'll have be pretty thick if I can't reach all of your vitals with five inches of steel. Heart or kidneys are all that really count in the trunk. Plus which, more often than stabbing I would be going for the blood vessels on the inside of the wrist, the inside of the elbow and/or the outside of the neck. Easier and quicker and surer to reach. If it isn't a knife fight, just a killing, then you come up from behind and insert your blade, parallel to the ground, into the side of the neck below the earlobe (distance to be adjusted per size of target), and thrust clear through to the other side thus slicing through the carotids, the jugular, the windpipe and the vocal cords. Some like to sweep the blade outward, slashing open the throat, but this is overly flamboyant, allows a lot of blood to escape (you might want to hide the sucker, after all), and sometimes allows him to get out something like a loud grunt, perhaps sufficient to alert others you would just as soon remained unalerted for the moment. Some people prefer doing a Wingate, but I think it's iffy, myself. You give the guy that added split second to react. And as for getting cut, one reason for throwing a knife rather than getting in close is to avoid getting cut. That doesn't always work, of course, Witness Mat after the visit to the hell.
For Jacham, I am not saying that there is no relative evil, no shades of gray. What I am saying, and complaining about, is that allowing shades of gray has led us all too often to believe that there is nothing except shades of gray. All truths are equal. By that reasoning, Hitler's reasons for murdering millions of Jews, and others, in the death camps carry as much validity, and are as "right," as any other opinion regarding him and the camps. You might say that I have front loaded that, but it wasn't so long ago that I heard of a number of students in a college class who refused to write papers which called on them to condemn the Holocaust, not because they didn't believe it happened and not because they were Nazi sympathizers, but because doing so would have required them to be judgmental. All versions of the truth must be given equal weight. That's the current thinking. And it's bull. Yes, there are gray areas. Yes, there is relative evil. But that is all too often today taken as an excuse to say that it's all relative. One man's perceived evil is another man's inconvenience. That last is a quote from a man, now dead, who was a terrific writer and a great intellect. I could never argue him down on that one, however. But I never stopped trying. Relativism or no relativism, however many shades of gray you want to call up, evil still exists, and if you won't expend the effort to figure out where and what it is, then one day it will swallow you whole.
Well, not so long as some of the more recent posts, but times is running short, guys. See you again soon, I hope.
All my best,
First off, thanks to NaClH2O and to Anonymous. I didn't know that Pentangle had gone on beyond their first two albums. I remember walking down the corridor in my hooch in Nam and hearing music coming from a doorway that made me duck in and ask who it was. The next time I could get by the Air Force PX, I picked up Pentangle, and later the second album. After that, I heard nothing, so I suppose I simply assumed they had vanished like so many other musicians. They're like writers, you know. I can't recall the number of albums I've listened to with excitement, like the first novels I've read with excitement, only to never hear from the artist again. In any case, I'll look up the early Pentangle stuff on CD and hope the others are as good as those first two. As for Anonymous nominating Fairport Convention as heavily influential on the music that followed, they just don't make the cut. I heard Fairport Convention when they first came out, as well as later, and never thought I was listening to anything that was coming close to the envelope much less pushing it. When I heard those first few notes from Pentangle, they stopped me dead. I knew it then. Envelope? Forget the stinking envelope, gringo. These guys were so far beyond the envelope, the light from the envelope was a rapidly diminishing flicker in their wake, struggling hopelessly to catch up. Over the horizon? They were over the event horizon and out the other side. Today, maybe it wouldn't sound so fresh, but the fact is, where rock ventures today, Pentangle was running for the sunrise better than thirty years ago. That's why so often when I listen, I find myself thinking, been there, heard that, long time gone.
Okay, down to the books and stuff. There are so many questions on my printout already (95 pages) that sometimes I doubt I'll ever get to all of them. It may take a long, long while to get to the older questions or comments. I'll do my best, though, for those that seem interesting in one way or another or won't give away what I don't want given away. But I'm not going to tell you how many hit points Lan has or whether Callandor is a plus-100 Sword of Ultimate Doom in ordinary sword usage, though. In those cases it's because I don't know and, more importantly, don't care.
For Emma, and sundry others, my apologies. No, not about twitting Emma. That's too much fun to apologize for. But the questions she had Sander hand in on the tour really were about Asmodean, not Nynaeve. I don't know why, but for some reason when I think "questions from Emma," the name "Nynaeve" simply springs into my head. Anybody out there think they have any explanations for this phenomena? It is a puzzlement.
For someone -- Marigan, I think, but my notes are a little wonky right about here -- the Crystal Throne is not the High seat of the Tamyrlin, none of the Forsaken were among the Nine Rods of Dominion, and the "Rods" were symbols of office. Mil Tesen was really just a peddler who happened to be in the right place to pass on news of Morgase's supposed death to Gawyn. Not everyone is somebody other than who they seem, you know. And finally, Da'concion means "the Chosen Ones" in the Old Tongue, which is used with more frequency among the Seanchan than among inhabitants of the eastern side of the Aryth Ocean.
For Begona, I'm afraid there aren't any further signings until late June of 2006. And those will be in Anchorage, Alaska and Seattle, Washington. If you send a letter snail-mail to Tor Books, they'll forward it to me, and I'll send you some bookplates -- if you want actual books signed, you must include the return shipping container and postage -- but that won't get you autographs until February earliest, I'd say.
For several people. Nynaeve could Travel after depositing Lan in Saldaea because she had "learned" that spot by Traveling to it. Remember, if someone Travels to a place, they now know the place they have Traveled to as well as if they had spent time there learning it.
For Weasel, my idea of the game of stones hasn't changed, though my way of describing it may well have. I try not to describe things the same way all the time. It gets boring after a while. I mean, think of Homer, who used some of the first macros. He gestured so, and the scribe taking the story wrote, "When first dawn with rosy fingers caressed the sky," or he gestured thus and the scribe wrote, "They sat at the oars row on row and smote the wine-dark sea to foam." Okay, okay; every time and culture has its catch-phrases which haven't yet become cliches. (Though they will. For anyone who has attempted, foolishly, to connect with a son or daughter or any other young person, especially one under the age of 25, by attempting to use their speech, take heart. Remember how you talked at 25, 18, 15? Nowadays, it would be good for a laugh from the younger set, right? Well, in another 15 years, the insular speech those younglings use today will be sufficient to send them scurrying from the room. And better still, sufficient to set their kids off in attacks of giggles and/or near-terminal eye-rolling. What goes around, comes around.)
For sheep the evicted, who has heard that I assigned various numerical strengths in the One Power to Rand, Ishamael and others based on a scale of 100 points, no I did not. I have said that in my notes I have such a scale that I use to keep track of everyone, but its main use is for the lesser characters, in particular Aes Sedai, so that I can check on who should defer to whom, who should only listen a little more attentively to whom, and so forth.
For Deadsy, who has a truly incredible lingerie (or is it just underwear in general?) fetish, some people in this word wear silk smallclothes, and some have their sigils embroidered on their smallclothes. Some Aes Sedai do use pigeons to send cake recipes, but only in cipher and only to people they have never met. It's an Aes Sedai thing.
For David, Warders don't slow. They age at a natural pace, but they do maintain vitality and vigor beyond the levels associated with most ordinary men. That said, I recently saw a photograph of a man in his seventies who had an absolutely ripped six-pack. In fact, from the neck down, if you were told you were looking at somebody in his 20s or 30s, you'd just think he was in incredible shape. And he wasn't bonded to anyone. Also, Aes Sedai can release a Warder from the bond. In fact, I have said that most Aes Sedai who have time to realize that they are dying will release any Warders they have in order to spare them the effects. I'm pretty certain I have said that publicly, by the way.
As an aside, I saw somewhere that I supposedly said that Sharina Melloy will not grow younger. If I did, then I misspoke. Sharina will not grow young, but she will grow younger in appearance, as will any other older women who begin to channel. For Sharina, by way of example, she will "regress" into apparent middle age, but no younger.
For kcf, one of Cadsuane's ornaments is a ter'angreal that can interfere with weaves. That is how she was able to disrupt Semirhage's use of Illusion.
I haven't seen J.K.Rowling's comments on reading and writing fantasy, nor any comments by Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett. Are you thinking of particular comments? It seems that you do for Rowling. For myself, I believe that the popularity of fantasy has expanded in the last decade or so, perhaps the last two decades, and expanded far beyond the level at which it began. The success of the Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter phenomena are both results of this increase in popularity. Neither the LotR movie nor Harry are causes. Nor do big budgets or modern special effects have much to do with this popularity. People flocked to the movies in droves long before there was any chance that more than a (relative) handful had actually heard about the special effects.
The reason for the popularity of fantasy, and the reason science fiction is fading in comparison, is quite simple, really. Increasingly in books and films, including science fiction but also in everything from mysteries to so-called "main stream literary" novels, the lines between right and wrong have become blurred. Good and evil are more and more portrayed as two sides of the same coin. This is called realism. People by and large want to believe that there is a clear cut right and wrong, though, and that good and evil depend on more than how you look in the mirror or whether you're squinting when you do. In fantasy, you can talk about good and evil, right and wrong, with a straight face and no need to elbow anybody in the ribs to let them know you're just kidding, you don't really believe in this childish, simplistic baloney. That seems to be less and less so in other genres.
Does that mean fantasy all has to be goody-goody on the side of right and black-as-the-pit on the side of evil. No. In my own work telling right from wrong is often difficult. Sometimes my characters make the wrong choice there. Sometimes they do things are quite horrific. But they try to find the right choice. This is the way I think most people see the world and their behavior in it -- trying to do the right thing with the knowledge that sometimes you're going to make the wrong choice, and with "right" defined as more than simply being of benefit to yourself -- and they want to read books that reflect this. Right and wrong are not simply different shades of gray. Good and evil are not simply a matter of how you look at them. (Have you ever noticed the use of "of course?' As in, "The actions of the suicide bombers is quite horrific, of course...." You know that a "but" is coming, followed by an explanation of why their actions, while "quite horrific, of course" are also "entirely understandable under the circumstances," which come down to "the death and destruction is all somebody else's fault completely.")
As the view of the world, as expressed by the evening news and most books, has increasingly become that everything is really just shades of gray, people have grown more and more to want something that says choosing right from wrong may be difficult, seeing what is evil might be hard, but it is not only worth making the effort, it is possible if you try. Maybe not every time, but most of the time by and large. And that is the heart of the popularity of fantasy, and why it has grown. I suspect that somebody has a doctorate in the waiting simply by showing a correlation between the increase in popularity of fantasy on one hand and, on the other, the increase on the evening news and in most literature of the view that right and wrong, good and evil, are just matters of where you stand and how you're holding your head at the moment.
On the large scale, the gender relationships in the Wheel grew from the very beginnings of the books, really. I recall seeing a paperback book back in the 70s, a fantasy novel about a young woman who wasn't allowed to become a magician of whatever sort it was because she was a woman. The notion struck me as interesting, since it was the first fantasy novel with that theme that I had ever seen, but what really stuck with me was this. That novel was a simple reflection of the then-current mundane world, but what about if it were men who were not allowed to become whatever it was? Now that would be an interesting twist, and unexpected. Why would that be, and how could it be enforced? As Harriet has often pointed out, many of the world's gender inequalities stem from superior male upper body strength. (To which I usually say, "Oh, dear! Isn't that awful and unfair!" While pulling off my shirt and flexing my biceps, to be sure.) From that genesis grew the division of the One Power into a male and a female half with the male half tainted, giving a reason why men not only would not be allowed to become Aes Sedai, as they were not then called, but must not be allowed even to channel, again as it was not then called. From that, and from the history that I was even then beginning to put together for this world, though I didn't realize it then, came the result of 3000+ plus years when men who can wield the ultimate power, the One Power, are to be feared and hated above all things, when the only safety from such men comes from the one stable center of political, and other, power for those 3000+ years, a female center of power. The view I then had was a world with a sort of gender equality. Not the matriarchy that some envision -- Far Madding is the only true matriarchy in the lot -- but gender equality as it might work out given various things that seem to be hard-wired into male and female brains. The result is what you see.
Now as to communications and the lack thereof, these things are not commentaries on any sort of technologies. They are a commentary on the human navel. Do you really know anybody who actually tells everything he or she knows to everybody? Even when they really need to know? Maybe especially when they really need to know. Do you really trust people who think they always know what other people really need to know? May I postulate that this person has few close friends, those quite quiet when around him or her? There are a thousand reasons why we don't tell everything to everybody, including often things that we should tell. Maybe the information puts us in a bad light, so we withhold information, or perhaps shade the truth a bit. That's one of the most common. Or maybe we think the other person must already know because it is so obvious. Which can add the factor that we don't want to appear foolish for pointing out that the sky seems to be blue today. Or maybe we just didn't bloody well think of it. It has always struck me how unrealistic, how incredibly fortuitous -- you think ta'veren are centers of unrealistic coincidence? Huh! -- books are where almost everybody learns everything they need to know as soon as they need to know it, where almost nobody of any note or importance ever has to make decisions based on incomplete information, information that the reader may know is at least partly wrong. Lord, even when they just learn almost everything they need to know exactly when they need to know it, matters seem just too far-fetched. No, it isn't a commentary on technology. Just people.
For Sandar, you know very well that Emma would be disappointed if I stopped tugging at her pig-tail. Now as to the fellow who went mad in the cell next to Padan Fain and the other who committed suicide, neither is evidence for Lanfear's presence. Which is just as well. Repeat after me, slowly. Lanfear -- did -- not -- free -- Padan -- Fain -- in -- Shienar. Nor anywhere else, for that matter. There were two prisoners in the cells with Fain, both of them Bordermen who had some knowledge of Shadowspawn. And in the heart of the fortress here comes a troop of Trollocs and the Light alone knows what else. Put yourself in their place. Put yourself in a cage. You can't get out. You are in the dark. And here comes your worst nightmares walking in. Only it's worse than nightmares, because you know that these nightmares are real. You know what they do to human beings. You know they sometimes keep people alive a long time so they can have fresh meat. People don't need arms or legs to survive, so they can feed off you for days, maybe weeks. And you can't get out. You can't get away. You just have to shiver in your cage and watch them open up another of the cages. While you wonder whether they're going to open your cage, too. How do you escape? How can you get away? Maybe suicide is an option? At least it's quick. Quicker, anyway. But make up your mind fast, sport. While you're dithering, your mind might decide to make its own escape. That won't stop you from being butchered slowly, but at least you won't know it's happening. Maybe you can see why Lanfear wasn't necessary here?
Okay, that's it for now. I need to get back to writing.
All my best, guys.
Well, I've recovered from the tour, gotten a little work done on A Memory of Light, and I'm slowing down for the Thanksgiving descent of family on the house. And our descent on various other relatives. You know how it goes. So I thought I'd post a short one.
Thanks for the CD, Deadsy. I liked it. It seems very reminiscent of Pentangle at times, but then a lot of groups do. I saw an article somewhere or other that claimed Pentangle had more influence on the music that followed than the Beatles and as much as the Beachboys. The second is quite a claim to make. Remarkable for a group that did two albums -- anybody out there old enough to remember vinyl? Hey, I still have some of my 45s! -- in the late 60s then vanished.
For Min17 and anyone else who hasn't seen any of the posts about my tour appearances -- if the usual methods were followed, every word I said was posted at least once -- there will be one more main sequence novel. At some point in the future I will do two more short prequel novels. I have signed the contracts for a trilogy -- the first of two planned -- entitled Infinity of Heaven. And Harriet and I will be doing an encyclopedia once Book 12 is complete. I've said frequently that I wouldn't write in this universe again once tWoT was done unless I had a really great idea. I may -- I say again, may -- have had such an idea. I have to poke at it for a year or two to see whether it's strong enough. If it is, I'll do two or three "outrigger" novels following some of the characters on another story arc. If it isn't strong enough, then I'll let it die a quiet death.
Once again, for fans in any country other than the United States who want me to tour there, bombard your publisher with requests. With the exception of Canada, however, where you'd need to bombard H.B. Fenn, the distributor. I've done Canada (three times), Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Italy (twice), Turkey, Australia (twice) and New Zealand (twice). I did appear in Russia, but that was for the Congress of Russian Science Fiction Writers. So you can see I'm willing to travel. But tours have to be set up by the publisher in-country.
I saw some complaints about the "reviews" posted on tWoT at Amazon.com, but you have to realize that a lot of people post at Amazon just so they can flame something. If you disagree, whether with the reviews or the ratings of which sort of reviews were most helpful, make your own posts. Seems to that a year or so back, maybe a little longer, Amazon let a glitch slip in so the reviews were no longer anonymous. Turned out some well known mainstream authors were putting up posts lauding their own books. And others criticizing the work of writers they didn't like. Red faces all around. Amazon fixed the glitch and nobody talks about it much any more.
For Son o'merc, I came up with the Almurat Mor character without benefit of the fan sites. In fact, until I saw your question, I wasn't aware that there were any particular postings about Mor.
For kcf, Tuon is stating a misbelief, really, a Seanchan urban folk tale, if you will. The Seanchan no longer know about Foretelling -- though they are beginning to hear reports -- but they have memories of the knowledge, you might say. There memories have gotten twisted into the widespread belief that any damane can tell your fortune. This belief is strengthened by the fact that some damane actually can Foretell, and more of them than on "this" side of the Aryth Ocean, a facet of sul'dam remaining in the breeding pool with the result that there are a higher percentage of women who potentially could channel among the Seanchan than on the Eastern side of the ocean. And also a higher percentage of many Talents.
For Kison, education in this world is a very sometime thing. In the Two Rivers, where literacy is valued, parents teach children, and if, say, old Jondyn is known to be knowledgeable about history, parents send their children to him. This education is not as broad as that they might receive in a school, but then, the education given in many schools as late of the 19th Century would hardly stand up to today's standards. Rhetoric was given as great a weight as mathematics when it wasn't given more. Modern languages were deplored, and not taught even at university level. Parents teaching children is the general model followed. Sometimes a village might hire a sort of schoolmaster, but this is usually thought to be a waste of money since the parents between them have enough knowledge to teach most subjects to the extent necessary.
Someone asked how difficult it is for a blind person to channel, but I didn't make a note of who. In any case, it is difficult but not impossible. The different flows have different feels, though saying they have different flavors might be as accurate. In the comic, we use colors, not because they actually have colors but because they also can be told apart by sight. Someone who was blind and who tried to learn to channel would be able to differentiate between flows of the Five Powers. The difficulty would be in learning to make the weaves.
Also, in KoD, Beonin does speak wrongly, and as much as I would like to call it an editing error, it is such only in that neither the editor, the copy editor, nor my assistant caught it. Homer nodded, and I blipped. It will be corrected in the next printing.
And for Min Farshaw, I always wanted to a writer. I decided when I was five years old that one day I would write. There have been scenes I didn't like writing because of what was happening in them. That has happened fairly often.
Oh, yes. Emma. You didn't think I'd forget you, now did you? Your rather long -- very long -- list of Nynaeve questions was handed to me, so your minion did his job. He also told me you would have been there yourself except that you had been grounded! Aha! I knew you'd been lying about your age.
Well, take care, guys. The tour was fun, but it's good to be back home. It's good to be alive. It's good to back at my desk, writing.
Bye for now.
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,
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,
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 chooses 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,
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 Amyrlin, 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 a 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 word. 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.
All my best,
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,
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.
All my best,
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.
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.
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