Dragonmount’s Ebony Adomanis, who is also the director's assistant/manager of the World of Wheel of Time track at JordanCon, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Seth and Patrick, the voices of the podcast Wheel of Time Spoilers. This interview shows a lot of the behind the scenes intricacies that make Wheel of Time Spoilers such an enjoyable, and engaging, podcast!
Ebony: Thank you for visiting Dragonmount. Please introduce yourselves for our readers who might not be familiar with your podcast.
Patrick: The Wheel of Time Spoilers Podcast is a show that's released 3 times a week. It's a book club in audio format, made by fans of the series for fans like us. It's a show for people who have already read The Wheel of Time, and may want to read it again, or at least listen to a more in depth understanding and discussion of the series. We talk about important plot points, character motivations and allegiances, explain the magic use/magical item use and function as they appear during our read-through, and talk about lots and lots of different fan theories. We felt that there's another layer revealed with each re-read or audio book listen we did, and we wanted to share that with the fan community. Another thing that makes us a bit unique, I think, is that we always record episodes live in a Discord Server, so our fans can take part in the discussion of each chapter while it's being recorded. So, Seth and I are blessed with real-time fact checking, and theory discussions in text form in front of us while we have our conversation, while people read through the series with us.
Seth: Patrick and I are friends from Portland, OR. We met in 2013 when we rented rooms in the same house. I immediately noticed Patrick’s “Spear and Buckler” Aiel chapter heading tattoo on his arm and that started a conversation that is still going on today. We talk about minor plot points, character motivations, magic systems, and just how awesome the Wheel of Time is. Our podcast is that conversation, organized chapter by chapter, recorded and edited. We have been making WOT spoilers for nearly a year now.
E: Whose idea was it to begin Wheel of Time Spoilers?
P: It was definitely Seth's idea to try to start recording the conversations we were already having, and put them into some kind of podcast format. It really started as two friends having a couple beers and talking about our favorite books. Then we put a laptop and a microphone in between us. All the social media interaction, the Discord server, live listening and discussion, merch, that all came later, and mostly by listener request. Those requests have been the major driving force in the development of the podcast over time. We never even expected it to pay for itself until listeners sent us messages offering to help pay for hosting fees, software, equipment, and time. We expected a hobby, but the awesome, kind-hearted, and dedicated fans of the series have turned us into something more sophisticated than that. I think it's what they wanted, and we just went with it, because we were just happy that there was so much interest in our geeky projects.
S: I’m a huge fan of podcasts. I found a bunch of tech and political podcasts to listen to, but I wanted more Wheel of Time Content. I’m not sure who first said “We should make this a Podcast”, but the topic started to come up whenever we were hanging out over a few beers. About two years ago Patrick took some time off to Hike the Pacific Crest Trail. A few months after he got back into town I asked him to help me move. I brought up the Podcast again, and convinced Patrick to sit down and record. So with one microphone and my apple earbuds, we recorded Episode 0. I think Patrick was genuinely surprised at how good we sounded, so we invested in a second microphone, and got to work.
E: When recording new episodes, do you have an idea of what you are going to say or does the conversation flow more organically?
S: We prepare independently for each episode, but the conversion is as organic as possible. We each choose quotes we want to talk about, and spend some time thinking about what to say. We actually try and avoid talking about the chapter before we record, to prevent us referencing conversation we had earlier, or forget to bring up a point with recording on. During editing I cut out silences and any speech disfluencies I can find. I also remove any half-finished sentences and logistical chatter. The finished product is often 15 to 30 min shorter than the recording time.
P: Not really, no. Although, at the beginning of each recording we have our friend Jessica introduce the show. Then I read the chapter number, name, and the particular symbol in the chapter heading which always somehow hints at what's about to happen. Then I read the introductory paragraph, sometimes the first two.
During the meat of the episode we both have the text in the Discord server and the text of the actual chapter in front of us. Like Seth said, we make highlights and notations in our separate books and don't discuss them before we press the record button. The podcast is the conversation we have as we compare notes.
There's usually an after-show as well, where we'll include one of our routine irrelevant tangents. They often don't have anything to do with the series, or sometimes they're roughly inspired by what we just read. In a recent episode I spent some time talking about my experiences walking across the Anza-Borrego, and Mojave desert during my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. It was roughly a comparison to what living in the Three Fold Land might be like. That's the sort of thing the after-show is made up of.
E: What sources, if any, do you use?
S: The Wheel of Time Novels, obviously! I’m a big fan of the WOT FAQ, and consider it a huge inspiration for what I’m doing in the podcast. Because it has versions for each book it is a great tool for people who don’t want to be spoiled on later books, and it gives me a great snapshot into what was going on in the community at the time the book came out.
Encyclopeadia WOT is a fantastic reference tool. Using it as a reference, and having the ebooks on hand, I can find almost any scene I’m looking for in seconds.
The WOT Wiki is a great tool, but as with any Wiki I’m very careful when I use it as a source
And of course as the podcast has grown, the fans are the biggest source of feedback we get. Especially the fans that listen live who are able to correct us in real time. They are also constantly providing a stream of theories, ideas, and headcanon to tap into. Collectively they are some of the smartest, nicest fans out there.
P: The novels, wot.wikia.com, encyclopeadia-wot.org, the famous WOT FAQ, library.tarvalon.net, and our Patrons hanging out on the Discord server, who are often able to look up answers to whatever question we ask aloud to each other before we can ourselves.
“The Chosen” by the way, are what we've taken to calling the group of awesome listeners who show up for our live recording every week, and volunteer their time to help us research and flesh out each chapter. Timber, Seth's Pit-Bull mix, who is present at every recording as well has been named Nae'Blis by the Chosen themselves as the General of our legion of the Shadow.
E: What influenced your decision to included spoilers in your podcast, instead of making it “new reader friendly?”
S: I’ve read these books so often, I’m not sure I could make the discussions friendly to readers that want to avoid spoilers. I wanted to have an open, honest speculation session about every point of the books, with all the information available. I wanted a place for the fans that simply can’t get enough Wheel of Time, fans like myself.
P: Not having spoilers in the podcast was never really on the table. The pod was always meant to be the conversation that so many fans of the Wheel of Time were looking for but couldn't have, unless of course they had a friend who was also willing to read 15 700 +/- page novels – the conversations Seth and I were already having. WOTSpoilers is for other die-hard fans like ourselves, not first time readers. We love that new people are finding the series every day, and people who have recently finished their first read-through find us all the time. There are always new people joining the conversation. It continues to surprise me, just how many fans there are out there.
E: Do you re-read each chapter prior to the podcast?
S: Yes. Usually in the hour before we record.
P: Yes. Almost always immediately before we start talking about it. So, we typically prep for an hour or so before we actually start recording. That's just time spent re-reading the chapters, and usually reading a few character outlines on an obscure Aes Sedai, Darkfriend character or Item of Power for instance.
E: Why did you choose the podcast format for Wheel of Time Spoilers instead of another media outlet?
S: Podcasts are intimate. We are inviting you into our living room, to join our conversation. Audio can be more casual than the written word, and is more easily produced than video. Plus it was a natural fit for the conversations we were already having.
P: Couldn't have said it better myself. We're just recording something that was more or less already happening.
E: Along with doing a podcast, you use Discord to allow your fans to listen and comment in real time. How does this hinder or help your live recordings?
S: The feedback is massively helpful for getting details right. Our Chosen in Discord create a community atmosphere, and help me feel like I’m talking directly to them, rather than a nebulous fan base. They can occasionally be distracting, and it can sound odd when we reply directly to the Discord channel without reading the question, but I wouldn’t want to record without them. I especially want to thank Aradia Farmer and Kelsey Maxwell who recently hosted two episodes, and have been at the forefront of the fan community.
P: This exactly. I wouldn't want to make the podcast without the Chosen at this point. The conversation in Discord gives us real time corrections and fact checking, live debates about theories, questions that we hadn't thought of answering or asking, and that's not to mention that some of these folks have been hanging out with us every Thursday and Sunday night for 6 months or more. It feels much more like a group of friends meeting up for drinks than a gathering of strangers on the internet. We've even hung out with a few of the Chosen in real life at this point.
E: Is there anyone in the fandom you’d like to interview?
S: Well I know Brandon Sanderson is a huge WOT fan! I snagged Leigh Butler’s email from Jason Denzel, but haven’t had a chance to contact her yet. She did The Great Wheel of Time re-read from Tor.com, and I’m hoping she would be willing to join us for an episode.
P: I'd of course have to second Brandon Sanderson. Everyone we've had on so far has been really delightful, I'd love to have Jason Denzel on again. It would also be cool to talk to Rafe Judkins about the development of the show. We're hoping to run into some of these folks at JordanCon, and who knows, maybe we'll even get some short interviews.
E: How long have you been fans of The Wheel of Time?
S: I first picked up The Eye of the World in 1995 when I was thirteen, and read through to Crown of Swords. After that I had to wait for each book. Robert Jordan’s death was a major shock and I briefly lost interest, but I’m glad that the series was picked up by an avid fan and talented author in Brandon Sanderson.
P: I was around the same age when I found the series. So, I've been a fan for about 17 years give or take a few.
E: How many times have you read the series?
S: I would re-read the entire series as each novel was released, and often in between releases. It’s hard to get an exact count because I use the books as a reference, and often read a few chapters here and there. Of course I’ve read The Eye of the World many more time than A Memory of Light
In 2012, I started listening to the audiobooks. They are always on my phone, and I listen to them whenever I get the chance. The audiobooks have gotten me through many long shifts, nights, and commutes.
P: As far as pure re-reads cover to cover, I'd say around 4 times. But I often go back to particular sections. For instance, recently I re-read the Rand locked in a box sequence up until Dumai's Wells. I've read the first three books much more than the rest with the exception of the final book and specifically the Last Battle, which is another sequence I’ve re-read MANY times. I honestly couldn't say how many.
I'll put it this way. If you're also a fan of Star Trek or The X–Files say, you've probably watched the thing end to end a few times. But you likely have a few favorite episodes or season finales you've watched more than other parts. It's just like that.
E: If you could have one character on your show to interview who would it be and what one question would you ask them?
S: Loial. It wouldn’t matter what I asked, he could just ramble on about his books and I would love it.
P: Can I pick two? Ishamael, and Nakomi. I want to know more about how the mechanics of this universe work. I know Ishamael is at least partly insane and all, but I would bet he and Nakomi could lend us some very interesting insight into some questions that are really hard to answer. Who is Nakomi, a Hero? A Dragon? Rand's Mother? One or several of those? Who is the voice that speaks to Rand in all capital letters at the beginning and end of the series? How much of certain plots and strategies were designed and orchestrated by Ishmael, and how much by the Dark One? Ishamael, why don't you ever use the One Power, but always the True Power? How does the Horn work, and why were Ish and Rand fighting in the sky? Which scenes are dream-shards, who pulled who into who's dream? I Could go on forever.
But, if you've read this far, you're probably as big of fans of the series as we are, and in that case, the Wheel of Time Spoilers podcast is made for and by fans like yourself. Join the conversation on Discord and help our little book club pull apart the mysteries of, what we think is the best high-fantasy series ever written.
Thanks to Seth and Patrick for taking the time to answer all our questions! And for those who will be visiting JordanCon 10 in a few days, Seth and Patrick will be in attendance. Join them Sunday at 11:30AM in the DeKalb room. Use this opportunity to ask them a few of your own questions.
Edited by Mashiara Sedai