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Storm Leader report: BYU Midnight release

Guest Jason


This is the first of Storm Leader reports that we'll be posting throughout the U.S. book tour for THE GATHERING STORM. At each tour location, Dragonmount and Tor Books recruited a select group of volunteer fans to help run the event, hand out promotional materials, and represent us to the fans. In return, they were given the opportunity to meet with Brandon Sanderson and (if present for their event) Robert Jordan's wife Harriet. We will have a full report with photos and possibly video for each one of the tour stops.



Diary of a Stormleader

By Jennifer McBride - http://unrepentantescapist.blogspot.com/


Want a sneak peek into the glorious, glamorous life of a Storm Leader? Here's a glimpse into the excitement during the midnight bookstore release at BYU. (For those of you watching the livecast, I was the really annoying blond girl that hopefully nobody noticed because they were so busy goggling at Brandon. This was my first chance to be at a Wheel of Time release party, so I might have been a touch... overexcited.)






The Stormleaders have been meeting by email for a couple of weeks, but it's finally time to meet in person. People from all over the valley (and one from Idaho) converge on Springville, Utah to put the final touches on the event. We range from fans who have followed the series almost since its inception to one person who only joined up at the Knife of Dreams. Most of the meeting we spend talking about our favorite books and examining the swag from Tor, which includes comic books, bumper stickers and bookmarks. As I run my fingers down the slick comic book covers, murmurs of "my precious" are heard. THANKS TOR!


Matt Hatch, our "First Among Servants," already has the book and stayed up all night reading it despite a trip from Las Vegas which left him short of sleep. He lets us look at it. A quick-flip through doesn't reveal any new chapter symbols, though I could have missed some. The book weighs in at a hefty 783 pages with a skinny glossary. Oddly, the symbol above Brandon Sanderson's biography is Faile's golden waistband from Sevanna. An oblique commentary on Brandon being ‘chained' to his work? I'm glad they changed the last line of Robert Jordan's biography. Every time I read the "until they nail shot his coffin" part, I feel like I've lost him all over again.


We also learn that a storm is literally gathering in Provo, but the rain won't break until after the party, hopefully. At least the live feed works, even if there's a delay.


The host's two-year-old daughter tells us gleeful that the Stormleaders are coming. She seems disappointed to find out the "Stormleaders" are us.







We break to visit fans, who are already in line at the BYU bookstore. I rush around town buying necessities-chocolate to keep me awake all night (thank God for Halloween!) and enough copies of the trivia quiz/ word find/crossword puzzle to keep some 300 people entertained - our rough estimate of how many are going to show up.





On my way to the bookstore, I'm thinking about Semirhage when I see a dead hand dangling out of the car trunk in front of me. Seeing it helps me reach new heights of vulgarity until I realize that the hand is plastic, which makes me remember...oh yeah. Halloween.


I run these errands wearing my Stormleader t-shirt to show my general awesomeness. Unfortunately, the rest of the world seems oblivious to said awesomeness. The clerks at Albertsons seem more concerned with the sale on camouflage Snuggies.




After struggling with a possessed copy machine, I head over to the Red Rooster Dumpling Bar in downtown Provo. Matt's there and he's put together a poll in which fans try to guess what will happen by the series' end. Brandon just about takes the poll, but then realizes that we will be able to tie his answers to his entry. Shoot!


Survey Results


(With everything else going on, I never got around to most of the line, so there were only fourteen responses. Sorry! - Matt)


I get kicked out of my seat by Brandon' s assistant (Peter, who is wearing a shirt with the word "incalculable," because that's what Brandon calls him in one of his book dedications). And I realize with horror that BRANDON SANDERSON is going to be sitting across from me. Watching me eat. What if I get broccoli stuck in my teeth? The HORROR!!!




Brandon arrives fresh off his trip to Denver's MileHighCon with a nasty cold that will, through the night, put him on the edge of losing his voice. We all feel sorry for him, especially because he's going to get a maximum of three hours sleep tonight before he's off on the plane to his next signing.


The dinner goes well, with good conversation. There's a certain surreal aspect to it, as we're all clustered around a table treating Brandon like a celebrity and/or minor god and NO ONE ELSE IN THE RESTAURANT KNOWS WHO HE IS. There's even another Brandon at another table, and the author looks up when he hears his name, grinning sheepishly. His wife, Emily, a former English teacher, is nice, beautiful and pregnant.


Some things we talk about at dinner: (I didn't take proper notes but I believe the 4th Age Podcaster of our group was recording it so you can probably hear an edited version there)


1. Brandon refuses to confirm or deny that the One Power was used to kill Asmodean. He also mentions a Slayer scene deleted from the Shadow Rising which would have shown more about Slayer's powers.


2. If he could pick a nationality from the Wheel of Time world, he'd belong to Malkier because he loves the lost kingdom story. He thinks all the Borderlands are cool, but would definitely NOT be a Saldaean.


3. He says he'd have to consult the notes to make sure, but he believes women can become "wolf-sisters." We just haven't seen any.


4. His favorite chapters to write from TGS were the concluding chapter and also chapter 22.


He also repeated things that he's said elsewhere, like that Robert Jordan left extensive notes, though he does have the power from Harriet to override them for the interests of the story. Robert Jordan especially left a lot of specific notes as to who lived and who died in Tarmon Gaidin, and he wasn't going to change any of that. So is there going to be a lot of deaths? The answer, of course, is RAFO.


I don't remember if he said this during dinner or during the signings or both, but he was considering doing the outrigger and prequel novels, but that the decision was ultimately Harriet's. Jordan left notes for that as well, especially the other prequels. If Brandon writes the other books, it will be after a pause at the end of the series. He definitely doesn't want it to become ‘the McWheel of Time.'


He also said that the series' ending puts certain threads in perspective. For example, Morgase, my least favorite character, apparently turns out to be less annoying than she appears. Also, fans will better be able to understand the importance of some of the lesser- liked books, like Crossroads of Twilight.


After Tor picks up the check (THANKS TOR! AGAIN!), Brandon heads over to the bookstore to begin signing books. He goes into the back to sign and number everything, and will wait to personalize the books of those willing to stick around and wait in another line.






While Brandon is signing books, he is interviewed a few times, and some of it ended up on a nice piece done by the BYU news crew.


At this point, there's about 120 people waiting out in the cold at the bookstore. The sun went down almost four hours ago, and I'd guess the temperature is around 46 degrees.







Matt recounts that while carrying the box of TOR goodies into the store around 9pm, he was surrounded by fifteen fans all curious as to what he could be carrying. Thanks to a tip from one of them, he found the entrance to the Bookstore and escaped what surely would have been an orderly mugging had they known that "The Gathering Storm" was tucked away in the black bag he was carrying on his shoulder.




Clip: Down the Line Part 1


Clip: Down the Line Part 2


The gates are opened and people flock in. The line, which once wound around the block, now winds around the bookstore. We hand out trivia quizs and start grading them. The winners will get their pick of the Wheel of Time comic books, which are both beautifully illustrated. I love the lacy gateway Ishamael weaves in the prequel, as well as Lews Therin's destruction scene. Awesome. To my chagrin, the other fans know the series better than I do. The key has some answers wrong, which I realize after I've thought about it. Oops. Only two people managed to get a perfect score, both brothers, so congratulations to the Briggs!


When Brandon gets finished signing in the back, he works the line, signing copies of Mistborn, Elantris, the Alcatraz series, and his latest: Warbreaker.




12 a.m.: MIDNIGHT!


After a fifteen second countdown, the boxes are opened and the books are released. Brandon begins signing, and signing, and signing. Sometimes he takes questions from the live feed. I only heard a couple, but one of them was "which Ajah would he be if he could pick an Ajah" and he answered: Brown. Given his love of the Borderlands, I was expecting Green.


Live Feed Recording: Part 1 (Signing begins 58 minutes in)


Live Feed Recording: Part 2


The signing went smoothly and well. The bookstore did a wonderful job hosting us and gave out their own door prizes, including free books. It struck me how sincerely grateful Brandon was for his fans, thanking them and trying to remember their names-impossible given however many hundred were stuffed into line. He also stuck up for the Stormleaders and made sure we got our numbers (in the 90s), which was kind of him. He had a cheat card with some phrases of the Old Tongue written down to help with the spelling in personalizing books. Some of his favorite things to write included: "May you always find water and shade" and "it's time to toss the dice."


Fans requested other things, like "Tai'shar Robert Jordan" and sayings from Siuan Sanche along with personal jokes. Brandon refused to sign stuff he hadn't worked on, like the comics. One person brought his old Magic the Gathering Cards and gave them to Brandon, earning his eternal gratitude.







There were a surprising number of fans who waited the several hours in line even though they'd never read a Robert Jordan book. One person waited hours to thank Brandon for his books even though he had nothing to sign. Even Brandon's sisters joined the line, and Brandon signed a book to "the Goober," his mother. One of the two people who had come to Brandon's first book signing back when Elantris was released (and Brandon sat in the bookstore, all alone-very different than today) came to get his book signed. He can legitimately call himself Brandon's "#1 fan." There were also people who'd never read Brandon's works before, including some truly dedicated. Among the rubber band balls, axes and corsets, there was also a man with a heron marked sword. Epic fantasy lovers and t.v. cameras mingled between shelves stacked high with books.


Brian Lickey was the lucky fan who ended up with book #1 of TGS. He waited in line 41 hours, waking up at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday and deciding to go wait in the bookstore line because he had "nothing better to do." Brian may be a relative latecomer to the series, (he started reading in 2002), but that didn't dampen his enthusiasm. He said he'd been resisting reading Robert Jordan for years until he fled Utah to get away from Olympic Fever and caught Wheel of Time fever instead. His favorite male character is Mat and his favorite female character is Min.


APPROX. 2:45 a.m.


The last fan has made it through the bleary-eyed yet enthusiastic line. Brandon's voice is shot. Everyone is tired after a long day. It's rumored the bookstore sold 400-500 books. The Storm Leaders are the last to get their books personalized from Brandon's hands, still writing legibly despite the weariness. For some reason, more than a hundred crazy souls have stuck with us through the livefeed and Brandon dances for them. Let's just say I don't think MTV will be calling anytime soon. The Stormleaders join in, and we all chant "To Dance with Jak O' the Shadows."



Brandon called it his "biggest book signing ever" and hurries home to upload Towers of Midnight onto his portable computer so he could work on it during the tour. Hopefully he managed to get some sleep in the three hours before his flight to Carolina.


The Stormleaders trudge away. I'm too tired even to read the book I spent the last who knows how many years waiting for. I stare at the stack of some 200-300 email addresses I need to put together for the Utah Wheel of Time mailing list we're developing and sigh before turning into bed.


The Storm may be over, but the work is just beginning. Especially for Brandon, who is probably about to endure the most exhausting book tour of his life.


Live Feed Recording: Part 3


BYU News Report



For those of you that do not want to watch all three recordings for the questions and answers, I have included them below:


Questions during Live Feed


Question: Will Rand eventually be united with his father Tam?


Answer: RAFO


Question: Would the True Source beat the True Power?


Answer: Okay. My gut instinct is going to say, yes. My gut instinct says yes, but that is not coming from the notes. If I was actually going to have to write it out I would have to go to Charleston and I would have to look in the notes but from what I've read I'd say yes. But that is not canon because I'm not remembering specifically, does that make sense? I'll tell you if it's canon or it isn't, but that one is just my instinct.


Question: How extensive were RJ's notes about Lews Therin?


Answer: His notes about Lews Therin, I would say are about middle extensive, comparatively of different things that he has notes on. Les than some, more than others. They were extensive enough that I know enough things you don't know to make me excited, but not so extensive that you know, you are ever going to see a book about Lews Therin or anything like that.


Question: As a followup question, are the notes about Lews Therin the same notes about the voice of Lews Therin's?


Answer: You know I think that's enough of a spoiler because there is still confusion or not confusion, wondering from people whether or not Lews Therin is the voice, I mean, of course Semirhage said that it is... Robert Jordan never really made that explicit himself. What I think and what you think may be different and so we'll just leave it. There are things about this in the book.


Question: What was your reaction when you finished The Gathering Storm?


Answer: It was an enormous sigh of relief, followed by a, how shoudl I say it, a curiousity what kinds of screams I would get when people read the last chapter of the book.


Question: When will the book be released in New Zealand and South Africa?


Answer: New Zealand and South Africa I think are both part of the World English market which is the UK publishers job to get books shipped there. So it all depends on how quickly the UK publisher gets their edition out and how quickly they can get to shipping them. Austrailia should be very soon, how ever long it takes them, but it's not going to be a long time because I thought UK was releasing today. Alright? And South Africa should be the same.


Question (Katie): Why did you choose to be so open with your writing process?


Answer: It's because when I was trying to break into this business and learn to be a writer, the whole process seemed opaque to me. And I think that's because I was doing it before the era of the Internet really hit and now that we have this opportunity I figure I'll throw it out there and maybe what I'm talking about will really help other writers who are aspiring. And also on the other end of it, it gets a little frustrating waiting for books to come out and you never know what's going to happen and you never know what's going on. I figure with the Internet we have such a great opportunity to keep people in the loop to let people know what's going on. We don't have to be so shadowed anymore, so I want to make as best use of it as I can.


Question (Katie): If you could choose an Ajah, which Ajah would you choose?


Answer: If there were Ajahs for guys, I would definitely be a Brown.



Question: Do you have any books coming out between the next two Wheel of Time books?


Answer: I have been working very hard on a book called "The Way of Kings" for about ten years now. It is the beginning of a large epic and I've always wanted to write one. I think it's almost ready. If the revisions work it will come out next fall. I don't think I will have one the year after that because the Wheel of Time is first priority. So, either between this one and the next one or between "The Towers of Midnight" and "A Memory of Light".



Question: Since you are Brown Ajah, will we learn more about the 12 (13) Depositories in the White Tower?


Answer: They are mentioned in "The Gathering Storm".



Question (Luke): Has anyone ever had the same ability as Min? And do you know how it is caused or how the ability works?


Answer: The ability works quite explicitly from her being able to see glimmers in the Pattern. She is seeing what is being woven in the future and that is how most of the Foretelling powers work. He was actually pretty explicit in the notes about that. Though some of them of course, there are ones that are strict, meaning they see the Pattern, some of them you see how the Pattern might be. She sees the Pattern as it will be. Has anyone ever had it before? Yeah, from what I read it never said it explicitly, but it implied that this is a power that could exist again and has existed before, but there are no lists of anyone that's had it before. It's definitely open that somebody could have had it before, but he doesn't actually say specificially.


Question: How much writing do you think you'll get done during the Tour?


Answer: I bought a brand new Netbook just yesterday...the goal being to do writing on the plane rides and in the car while the driver is driving me around. How much do I think I'll get done? My goal is to get up to about 90%...I'm not sure if I'll make that...we'll see...get to the 90%. What am I at right now? 70? (pause while he signs a book) Okay, let's not say 90%, I just added that up. Let's say 80%. Thirty thousand words is going to be tough to get. As I was thinking about that, wait a minute, fifty thousand words is a good month on its own, so if on tour I get half that I'm going to be happy.



Question (Claire): Will we see the Land of Madmen in any of the last books?


Answer: RAFO.


Question (Susan): Will you be coming to Canada? Will any previously unknown Black Ajah members be revealed?


Answer: I have spoken with my Canadian publisher and they have offered to send me on a tour. We are looking at having me go sometime next summer? I will yes that. Yes there will be Black Ajah members revealed in The Gathering Storm.


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