I see you, Dragonmount.
Thanks for checking out the following recap of the Los
Angeles (Huntington Beach) book signing of A
Memory of Light with Brandon Sanderson and Harriet McDougal. My fellow
Memory Keepers and I were happier than a Brown in a library to be chosen to
help out and make this signing awesome. We started arriving at around 3 pm and
were surprised to find that not a few avid fans had already arrived, eagerly
awaiting the start of the event.
Our Memory Keepers were a diverse group comprised of Rebecca,
our “First Among Equals,” Nathan, Ken, Joe, Rob, Carlos, and Kyle. Since Barnes
&Noble took care of all of the setting up, we were able to focus on games
and projects to keep everyone occupied while they were waiting. We had both
drawing and sculpting setups, as well as extremely challenging trivia sheets
for people to test their Wheel of Time knowledge. Want to take the challenge? You
can find a copy here:
Stumped? No worries, the answers are posted here:
Those who participated in our sometimes fun, sometimes
diabolical diversions were rewarded with various swag items including The Way of Kings in paperback, WoT phone
cases, backpacks, and “Tai’shar Malkier” bumper stickers.
Right around 6:15 pm, we received word that Brandon and
Harriet had arrived, and were smuggled into a back conference room to get our
books signed and questions answered. An interesting outcome from our questions
was that Brandon asked us to get people to compile a list of characters whose
outcome was left out of the final book for potential inclusion in the upcoming
You can add to the discussion here:
Upon our return from the back room, we chose a winner of the
costume contest we hosted, but since we only had one participant, the choice
was pretty easy. He looked really good though.
Brandon and Harriet arrived upstairs and took a moment to
admire everyone’s handiwork…. and promptly asked us to get it off of their
table. They were thoroughly impressed, I’m sure.
At this point, we were well past standing room only.
Introductions were made, and Brandon reminded everyone to stay away from
spoilers, especially since about 2/3 of the crowd had not yet finished AMoL.
From there, the Q&A began:
Brandon: Loial is my favorite character in the series. Are his scenes in AMoL written more by Brandon Sanderson or by Robert Jordan?
A: Brandon replies by
saying he will need to keep this vague due to not wanting to reveal spoilers to
those who have not finished reading. He
will answer this individually when the person comes up to him in line. He is against readers “looking” for him or
for Robert Jordan in the books. The
epilogue was entirely written by Robert Jordan, except for one portion that
Brandon: Is there anyone Brandon wanted to include in AMoL but didn’t get to?
A: No, he was able to
get to everyone. There were two major
sequences cut from the book. One of
these will appear in the charity anthology Unfettered. The other character POV just didn’t work.
Q for Harriet: What are the top three
characters in which her personality dominated that character’s personality?
A: (joking) Graendal,
Moghedian, …. (lots of laughter).
Probably Nynaeve. Harriet remarks
that she has several home remedies for any ailment. She states that Robert Jordan said all of the
women characters stem from her and makes a comment about nagging Robert Jordan
to take out the trash.
Harriet: When editing both Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, were there any
scenes that needed to be cut because they were “too ridiculous”?
A: No, for either of
them. They are fabulous storytellers and
did not show her ridiculous scenes. One
scene of Brandon’s she cut for pacing reasons.
She did have some disagreements with Robert Jordan, different opinions. Some scenes that he absolutely loved, she did
not like, and vice versa. She emphasized
the importance of having your editor as a trusted first reader. Brandon mentions Dannil, the fourth Two
Rivers boy, and Harriet explains that he was cut because he had nothing to do
in Eye of the World and he was
boring. Robert Jordan said that he had
big plans for him in the fourth book, and Harriet’s response was that if you
bore your readers now, there won’t be a fourth book. Later, Robert Jordan admitted “how easily he
[Dannil] unzipped out of the book.”
Brandon: Did he get to include anything from his “Cool Stuff” list in the
A: A few things did
end up in the book, but he won’t expand due to spoilers. He did say that he had ideas about Gateways
long before he was selected to finish the series. He wanted to include some of these ideas in
his own work but he was too worried about copying Robert Jordan, so they just
stayed in his file. He was able to pull
these ideas out and use them with Androl in AMoL.
Brandon: How did reading The Wheel of
Time inspire his magic systems?
A: The first influence
was Robert Jordan’s focus on human characters over fantastical ones. He felt that Jordan’s concept of weaving was
complex and interesting, as opposed to magic systems of authors such as David
Eddings. With the Wheel of Time, the rules and restrictions on magic made characters
more clever and interesting. He didn’t
want to modify the WoT magic system
but he did explore two aspects of it using ideas he had as a teenager: the World of Dreams and Gateways. He avoided adding new weaves because the
series was coming to a close.
Brandon: Who was his favorite character to write and who does he see himself
the most in?
A: Perrin was his
favorite. Even though Perrin went
through “a slump” in the series in order to build tension, Brandon always
stayed “Team Perrin.” Perrin was the
most natural. Mat was tough and thus a
cooler character to write. Brandon
enjoyed writing Mat, especially in AMoL. Mat challenged his skills more than anyone
else. The saddest part for him with
finishing the series is that he can’t write Mat anymore. Harriet added that there will not be anymore WoT books (other than the
encyclopedia). She said that Robert
Jordan hated the idea of someone taking his material, although he did want the
series finished. He stated he would run
over his hard drive before allowing others to “sharecrop.” Harriet stated that the two sentences about
the outriggers that Robert Jordan left behind will be released in April or
May. She said that with the encyclopedia
there is “the work of at least a year.”
Harriet: Did Robert Jordan have a favorite character?
A: Yes – the one that
he was writing that day. She said that
some days after writing he would come into the kitchen slouching and sidling up
against the wall, and she would say, “Have you been writing Padan Fain
today?” She went on to say that he
always wrote from “a position of love” for every character. Brandon tells about one of the editing notes
that he received from Harriet which read “Padan Fain needs more crazy.”
Q: Do Robert Jordan’s notes state who killed
A: Brandon states that
at the top of a large stack of Robert Jordan’s notes that he received, there
was a print-out of a fan’s theory about the killer of Asmodean. Stuck to it was a post-it note from Jordan
that read, “this is right.” Harriet
commented about the importance of glossaries.
Q for Brandon: Is the dialogue between Rand and
Mat in AMoL more Robert Jordan or
A: Brandon does not
want to answer that publically due to the potential for spoilers.
Q: Will the encyclopedia have illustrations?
A: Yes. Much more time will be given to the
illustrator than with the earlier book (the Big White Book). He stated that the BWB illustrator is very
talented but was rushed.
Brandon: Will you share the story of the day you got the phone call from
Harriet about completing the series?
A: Here, Brandon
reviewed the story, remarking that he was more nervous than on his wedding
day. Harriet added that she told Brandon
that he was on her short list, but didn’t reveal at the time that it really was
a list with just one name. She said that
she knew that he was a good writer but she didn’t know just how superb he was
going to be. He was “a great choice” to
finish the series.
Brandon: Why do the Shardblades in The
Stormlight Archive have the effect on flesh (human tissue) that they do?
A: He originally wrote
the scene in the prologue with the assassin Szeth using a traditional sword,
but it was so bloody and gruesome that Brandon was actually disgusted. He had to find a way to avoid that and so he
came up with a new way for the swords to behave.
Harriet: What were Robert Jordan’s influences for the creature that Padan Fain
A: Just his own work
and imagination. There were no outside
influences that she knows of.
Brandon: Who was his favorite villain to write?
Brandon: Could you elaborate on some of
your recent comments about the difficulty of writing shorter books?
A: One of Brandon’s
favorite stories is “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, and it’s only five
pages long, but he has struggled with writing shorter works. He’s tried, but he has felt bad at it and
it’s not something he’s ever been trained in.
He realized that he was trying to write shorter fiction for the wrong
reasons – he was doing it for New York and not because he wanted to do it. He feels that his best short work is Emperor’s Soul. He goes on to praise Harriet for her
remarkable career, specifically pointing out her role in Ender’s Game and Eye of the
World, two of the greats in sci-fi/fantasy.
Harriet modestly says, “I put my shoes on one foot at a time.”
Brandon: Who was the most challenging WoT character to write?
A: Mat was the most
challenging, the second most was Aviendha.
He explains that it is hard to write about someone so different than
yourself and the Aiel culture seemed the most unique in the series. Of Rand’s three women, Avi is Brandon’s
favorite. He recalls that after writing
his first Aviendha scene, Harriet read it and then told him that it was a
“picture perfect Elayne.” Brandon went
on to discuss how he has to write his way into his characters. Vin, in Mistborn,
was originally a boy. Lots of his early
work on The Gathering Storm was
scrapped by Harriet because Brandon wasn’t “there yet” with the
characters. He then goes on to discuss
the volume of notes left by Robert Jordan.
There are about 200 pages for AMoL
and then there is roughly 32,000 pages of other notes for the series, three
times as large as the entire series put together. Brandon tells of how he tried to open it once
and it crashed his computer because the file was so large. He also wants to commend the enormous efforts
of Alan and Maria for their help in managing all of the details of the series.
At this point, in the interest of time, the Q&A ended so
that, as Brandon said, "We can do a reading. We meaning Harriet."She read the opening paragraph of the wind rose chapter, and it was magical.
Following that, the signing began. As Harriet said, “I love you all, but I hate
midnight.” In consideration of that, everyone was allowed 3 books their first
time through the line, and anyone who wanted additional books signed or any
personalization had to go through the line a second time after Harriet left.
Before that could happen though, they had the daunting task of signing books
for approximately 500 people! Here are some cool things that happened as people
made their way to the front of the line:
Brandon getting a picture and signed card:
An awesome tattoo:
One hardcore fan with equally hardcore shoes:
These girls had a little fun with the trivia sheet giving spoof answers such as the Dark One's real name was Voldermort. Brandon found it so amusing that he posted it to his Twitter. He also signed a poster for them.
This couple came all the way from Australia to be at the signing. Now that's dedication.
With all of these awesome and interesting things happening,
the highlight for me was when out of the blue, Harriet poked me in the ribs and
said, “He looks like Perrin! Doesn’t he look just like Perrin?” I was so
surprised that of course I immediately agreed, and that is forever more what
I’ll remember when I think of Perrin Aybara. Not that I even saw the guy. Sorry Harriet.
All too soon, it was time for Harriet to say goodnight. The
Memory Keepers then enlisted Brandon’s help to give out the last of our
remaining swag to the die-hards who remained for personalization.
Then we breathed a collective sigh of relief, watched the line dwindle down to the last
person (a B&N employee who just got off of work), took a moment for one last picture, and made our exit.
We hope you enjoyed this brief recap of the awesome night we
had here in Huntington Beach. We are incredibly grateful to Dragonmount for
choosing us to be a part of the Memory of Light Tour, Barnes & Noble, and
of course to Brandon and Harriet for making all of this possible. Thank you all
for checking out our event. May you always find water and shade.