Storm Leader Report: Lexington, KY
This is the twelth of our Storm Leader reports we'll be posting throughout the U.S. book tour for The Gathering Storm, Warbreaker, readandfindout.com. I met Bradley first, of Elizabethtown and Theoryland. Then Mark from Tennessee and Dragonmount. Finally, Ben and Shannan from Cincinnati andWe proceeded as a group (Brian Delambre, Storm Leaders, Brandon and Harriet) up to the bistro attached to the bookstore for our six oâ€™clock dinner. A group photo was taken at the dinner table which I do not have yet to share, as it was not my camera. I donâ€™t know about the other Storm Leaders, but I had so many questions I wanted to ask and it was always tough to find a break in conversation for them. Above all, you didnâ€™t want to be rude and interrupt, plus you wanted to make sure everyone had equal time to freely converse. Iâ€™ll address what questions I successfully managed to ask at the end of the report, along with those asked by others at the Q&A and signing. When Brandonâ€™s upcoming novel The Way of Kings came up, I managed to interject how it was wotmaniac David Wood who had submitted the false cover for his long-listed but never available book, and that we had all enjoyed submitting fake reviews for it (given that it has yet to ever be released or read).
For those who arenâ€™t aware, Brandon Sanderson is challenging Dragonmountâ€™s Jason Denzel to a Magic: the Gathering Game. Fans have been supplying Brandon with packs of Magic cards to help him out in his card battle. Storm Leader Bradley presented Brandon with a couple packs to help him out. Later a fan in the signing line also gives Brandon a pack. The big surprise though was when Brian Delambre, who used to be a dealer, pulled out a totebag full of binders and boxes of massive amounts of Magic cards. Brandon is going to have a hell of a lot of cards to build his deck with. The stakes are rumored to be a Trolloc appearing in one of the last two books named after Jason. It would be the first named Trolloc since Eye of the Worldâ€™s Narg.
Iâ€™m sure many of you are familiar with Robert Jordanâ€™s traditional opener for his signing appearances. He would always open by reciting the proper pronunciations for all the many names, places and unique items in the Wheel of Time. Brandonâ€™s opening ten minutes of this tour feature him relating to everyone how he came to be standing there today, as the author chosen to complete Jordanâ€™s Wheel of Time. He began at the very beginning with how he got into the genre to begin with. Because of the often massive tomes in Fantasy, he referred to the genre as having more pages for your money than any other. Each book had real weight. â€œItâ€™s great when youâ€™ve found something you love, and thereâ€™s a lot of it,â€ he said. The book that first grabbed him was Barbara Hamblyâ€™s Dragonsbane, which is currently out of print, but sure to be found at most second hand bookstores. Brandon first read Eye of the World in 1990, and a scattering of hands went up from those who had also been fans since the beginning. When Brandon was selling his book and got the offer from Tor, it was suggested he wait and see if he got a higher offer from another publisher. But for Brandon, Tor was Robert Jordanâ€™s publisher, and when Tor wants you, â€œyou donâ€™t say no.â€
After Brandonâ€™s introduction, Harriet McDougal read from the prologue to The Gathering Storm. She began at page 44 and read the segment featuring Masema and Faileâ€™s interaction that follows the rescue at Malden. It may have simply been my own perspective, but there seemed an unintended extra weight to Faileâ€™s line, â€œSometimes, a wife must do what her husband cannot,â€ when read by Harriet, Jordanâ€™s widow. For some reason, when Harriet speaks those words, it feels as if she too is doing what she must, because Jim no longer can.
Concerning the prequels, it was stated that Jordan had signed contracts for two additional prequels (other than New Spring), that would feature Tamâ€™s story and possibly Lan and Moiraineâ€™s journey to the Two Rivers. Regarding the often rumored Outrigger novels, they are still undecided. Harriet expressed horror at the thought of â€œWheel of Timeâ€ becoming like a Star Wars-like thing with an expanded universe of excessive amounts of novels. She felt Jordan would come back to get her if she allowed that to happen. She quoted Kenny Rogerâ€™s â€œThe Gamblerâ€ and said that â€œYouâ€™ve got to know when to hold `em and know when to fold `em.â€ And itâ€™s hard to know when that moment is. For those wondering, Harriet holds the copyright to the â€œWheel of Timeâ€ series and Tor cannot make novels without her say-so. It was also mentioned that a new Encyclopedia is under contract and should be seen a year or so after the last book in the series.
For those who were unable to ask about spoilers or refrained from likely RAFO answers, simple comments included those with an inability to tell the differences between what Jordan might have written and what Brandon might have written. Brandon was very flattered by this. He mentioned online comments that people had complained that Brandonâ€™s chapter titles werenâ€™t at all like Jordanâ€™s chapter titles. Little did they know, he explained, that almost every chapter title in the series has been named by Harriet.
Back to the topic of WoT, Brandon and Harriet were both asked their favorite quotes or passages. Brandonâ€™s favorite quote was â€œLet the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.â€ His favorite passages were the prologue to Eye of the World and Randâ€™s experiences in Rhuidean. Harrietâ€™s favorite quote was â€œDeath is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain.â€
After Q&A, we moved to the signing area. Brandon requested a water that was half-hot chocolate because it helped him retain his voice. Brandonâ€™s rules were three personalizations or one personalization and just signatures on the rest of the stack (if there were many books). People were allowed to return to the end of the line if they needed more than three personalizations. Brandon admitted a love for independent bookstores, particularly those which could do signings as grand as ours. Harriet stated that Joseph-Beth was one of the worldâ€™s great bookstores. We Storm Leaders were stationed as book stuffers, picture takers, mailing list keepers, book prep (post-it with name and signing page marked), and note taking. Everyone got bookmarks and Brandonâ€™s recs with their books and we tried to get promotional materials to people in line.
One fan seemed underwhelmed with the Seanchan raid against the White Tower and asked if it had originally been intended as a truly epic battle. Sanderson said that it was always intended to be a raid.
Brandon, who is of the Latter Day Saints faith, was asked how he keeps his theology out of his books. He answers that a writer should not ram his ideology down the readerâ€™s throats. A good writer, he says, should present multiple perspectives and beliefs through his characters writing all arguments with equal strength, lest they carry less weight. He then says that Robert Jordan was once quoted saying â€œI love when my books ask questions, I do not want to give answers.â€ Another visitor also comments on Brandonâ€™s faith, praising that heâ€™s one of the only LDS authors heâ€™s read where you canâ€™t tell his faith through his writing.
One interesting bit of trivia that came up during the signing was that Brandon and former Jeopardy! wiz Ken Jennings were college roommates. He said that heâ€™s just like he seems on TV, a wryly witty guy.
It was revealed during the Q&A that Harriet was the editor of Orson Scott Cardâ€™s Enderâ€™s Game, as many fans know. There was at least one fan in the line that brought a copy of the book for Harriet to sign. A few others expressed regret at not bringing their copies.
It was great seeing so many people there for different books. Many were buying them for brothers, sisters, friends, children and other family members. One father and daughter stepped forward whose whole family read and loved the Mistborn trilogy. When he asked how his daughter could get a job just reading books for a living, Brandon suggested becoming a book reviewer or editor. Though he warned you might have to read a lot of really bad books.
Brandon took a moment during the signing to point out how excited his brother, whose name is Jordan, had been when he discovered that holding up the book with your hand halfâ€“obscuring the cover revealed â€œJordan Sandersonâ€ as the author. He also paused to explain his upcoming Way of Kings as the opposite of all those novels where magic is dying or leaving, in that it revolved around magic arriving/returning in a magical renaissance.
One visitor who came through the line for a signature had actually crafted a pen for Brandon as a gift. Harriet and Brandon were both amazed at the present. Another man had his adorable daughter in a â€œDaddyâ€™s Little Amyrlinâ€ t-shirt.
A nervous boy, who had his Alcatraz books signed, told Brandon that heâ€™d written a book report in school about The Evil Librarians. Brandon seemed delighted by that. The boy also had a book signed for his friend. One woman wore an entertaining t-shirt which read â€œDo not meddle in the affairs of dragonsâ€¦ for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.â€
A question about Matâ€™s behavior in TGS prompted Brandon to reveal that Jordanâ€™s notes had clearly stated â€œMat insists he will not be husbandlyâ€ and Mat is struggling with trying to return to his old self while dealing with the new stresses of love and marriage.
One local author came to the signing with a writing sample for Harriet and asked what it would take to let him write the prequels. Harriet commented that they werenâ€™t certain they were going to do them at all, but she graciously took his page. She also explained the issue with her name where she is Harriet McDougal professionally and Harriet Rigney privately (James Oliver Rigney is Robert Jordanâ€™s real name, for those unaware).
A fan with a full collection of signed â€œWheel of Timeâ€ hardcovers (including the Big White Book) came to have Harriet sign the whole stack. Brandon commented that he (Charles Saylor) now might be the only person he knows of that has the entire collection signed by both Robert Jordan and his widow Harriet.
I asked Brandon which WoT websites he peeked at. He said that he tries not to go to them for fear of being drawn into discussions. He said that if he goes anywhere, itâ€™s usually Dragonmount. To Matt of Theorland who said to say â€œHiâ€, Brandon says â€œRAFOâ€. When I asked him about my old home of wotmania, he said that he had been there and they seemed to like to argue a lot. I had to concede that.
At the end of it all, we (both fans and Storm Leaders alike) were all very grateful for Brandonâ€™s visit and thankful for his work finishing the â€œWheel of Timeâ€. We also felt especially privileged for our time with Harriet, as not all the signings were blessed with her presence and she really is wonderful. There were fans in attendance that had driven five hours or more from neighboring states, one military veteran taking time from his retirement in Puerto Rico and even a woman from Wisconsin who appeared to be the only one dressed as a character. There were brand new fans and fans whoâ€™d been reading WoT since 1990. We sold a great many books and had a fun time.
This is perhaps old hat by now, but Brandon has coined new term MAFO referring to Maria, one of the fact handlers behind Wheel of Time. She sometimes wears a RAFO hat and tips it for Brandon when he canâ€™t give someone an answer.
Brandonâ€™s introduction to Fantasy came by way of three female authors: Barbara Hambly, Anne McCaffrey, and I missed the third (sorry).
Brandon said there would be a sequel trilogy to Mistborn and also a short story spin-off that would likely be posted online.
Harriet indicated that the Bloodwrasps mentioned in TGS is not a typo of Bloodwasps and is a new thing we havenâ€™t seen yet.
Brandon says of the five Redarms that enter Hinderstap with Mat that the three that seem unaccounted for when everyone else escapes are not â€œforgottenâ€ and their circumstances are RAFO. He also said that he appreciates the finding of continuity errors so that they can be corrected before books go to paperback, but they are an unavoidable part of the business. He doesnâ€™t like when authors ignore continuity on purpose, but understands accidents.
Brandon hinted at some severe limitations on Shaidar Haran to affect the physical world. He says that a lot of actions that people assume to be those of Shaidar Haran in the book in one particular scene were physically carried out by Elza. He further indicated that Shadar Haran would have been incapable of physically placing the collar himself.
Brandon admitted there would be overlapping chronology between The Gathering Storm and The Towers of Midnight and that Graendalâ€™s name will be mentioned a few times.
Brandon said the progress of book completion is sometimes edited down and then up depending on the subtraction or addition of submitted content.
Jordanâ€™s outline for WoTâ€™s conclusion was about 2500 pages.
Brandon is a fan of Jerry Garcia ties.
Jordan was intentionally vague about the issue of Rand and Lews Therinâ€™s one soul and what part madness played in the two identities.
Brandonâ€™s pregnant wife is due in late Jan / early Feb.
When it comes to Asmodeanâ€™s death or possibility of rebirth or potential killers, Brandon seems oddly obsessed with balefire being the means of death when discussing talking points.
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