Editor's Note: After completing his USA tour to promote TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, Brandon Sanderson and his wife, Emily, were guests at the annual Utopiales science fiction convention in Nantes, France. While the Sandersons were in France, Brandon also did a signing at the WH Smith bookstore in Paris. This is a report from that signing. Please be aware that there are SPOILERS for TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT in this report and in the videos.
Brandon is planning other trips outside of the USA in the near future. Please check his website for details.
OK, here goes... If anyone else has pictures from the signing, please post them also. Thanks to Cuthbert 19 for sending me his pictures.
Here's a quick link to my dragonmount gallery for those who just want to see the pictures:
Signing Report Paris - Major spoiler warnings
The signing was a great event with over 100 people present. Brandon was very happy with it. The bookstore people were very nice and had bought some drinks for everyone.
Brandon's wife Emily sent me an email when they got to Paris and they met me in a café beforehand as a thank you for helping set up the book signing. Brandon signed my books and drew a dead narg for me because I told him that I am on Theoryland and Dragonmount and he had done things like this for other theorylanders (See Terez's dead Asmodean drawing).
Then we went over to the bookstore.
Here's a picture of the store window with lots of WOT books.
... and the posters they put up
Brandon began by reading Lan's part of the prologue with great enthusiasm:
Then came the questions & answers session (see detailed description below, videos are also coming).
I met up with Cuthbert and we also talked with some other enthusiastic fans met at the signing, one of which I convinced to buy Way of Kings. During the line, we read Julien's list of questions deciding which one or two he should ask if Brandon only had time to answer one and speculated about what the answers might be.
Here's a picture of us with the list of questions:
We intentionally placed ourselves at the very back of the line because both Cuthbert and Julien had a very big sack of books, and this gave us more time to talk about our questions and hang out near the diet coke :). It took about 2 hours to get through the line, which was fine with us!
Here's a picture of people in line (near the end):
... and Brandon signing books:
When we got to the front of the line, we asked our questions and Cuthbert identified himself as the guy who (almost) found the Venice clue during the great hunt (it was lost, but Brandon sent him a copy of it + another code) who flew to Paris just for the signing. There's a great picture of them at the signing table with the clues:
Afterwards, the bookstore was planning to take Brandon and Emily to dinner but as only one person from the bookstore was coming, Brandon invited Federico, Julien, 2 other fans and I who had waited at the back of the line to come along too which was a very fun experience and we got to ask more questions (yay).
Brandon and Emily opening magic cards from Federico:
The rare card in Brandon's pack (I think this is the one he had Federico sign):
... the cards were in Italian
Group picture at dinner:
Please note that here were some topics that Brandon talked about at the signing and also later, so I may have put some things he said later into the description of his answer to the question at the signing to have everything on the same theme in one spot.
This was a really great time and I want to thank Brandon, Emily, the bookstore and everyone who came! For those who were there, let us know who you were and if you remember anything I didn't mention here or got a question in line that I didn't hear.
Signing Q&A video 1:
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Sorry for the shaky camera at the beginning, it gets better after about a minute. This starts a few questions into the Q&A session as the beginning got erased by accident.
Signing Q&A video 2:
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Signing Q&A video 3:
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Signing Q&A summary:
The questions are not necessarily in order as I wrote this from my memory.
There were some funny moments like when someone asked what would be the role of the Prince of the Ravens and Brandon answered it with a rafo on the Prince of the Raisins. Much laughter ensued and he told us about the typo Maria found in the book about "butt trollocs"...
Another question was how much of the books was him and how much was RJ. He said that for AMOL, TGS and TOM, he had about 200 000 words of written material including notes dedicated to that story . He also had dictations dedicated to the AMOL material + dictations and the other general notes for the series. He made the parable of someone who has pieces of a Ming vase for which he had some pieces but others are missing and he had to put it all back together to make a whole. He did say that for this book, more of Mat was RJ and more of Perrin was him. I think that he has done a really great job.
Someone asked if he would do the prequels and outriggers. He said its Harriet's decision but he'd seen a lot of series being continued after they probably should have stopped and he doesn't want that to happen to The Wheel of Time. TOR wants very much for Brandon to do more WOT books after the end and also continue his own books. Brandon thinks that the easiest place for them to stop doing additional WOT material is after AMOL and the encyclopedia are done – if the prequels get written, he worries that there would be more demand for the outriggers and if the outriggers got written, demand for more books. He mentioned that he would say yes if Harriet asked him to do the prequels and outriggers but would say no to any further material after that. He has advised that they stop after AMOL and the encyclopedia. However, he did say that he thinks that the outriggers and prequels would be great books if they were written, which makes me really want to read them. He has said previously that if there were one or the other that he'd rather do the prequels but TOR wants the outriggers more.
He mentioned that doing TOM and rewriting/editing Way of Kings the same year was quite intense in terms of time. He is still committed to getting books out quickly and regularly, but WOK and TOM in one year was more than he wants to do on a regular basis.
He is going to take 3 months to reread the series and plans to have AMOL done by end 2011 for a release in early 2012.
Someone else asked if Rand's internal state of affairs was affecting the world around him. Brandon said there are 2 things going on – ta'veren and the fisher king prophecy which says the Dragon is tied directly to the land. He says it seems to Rand that more bad stuff was happening in TGS but that this could be either just Rand's perception or what is really going on. We should remember that ta'veren is supposed to be 50/50 – an extra equal amount of good and bad going on. He would not tell us at this point whether there was really more bad stuff happening in TGS or whether its rand's perception as there was purposefully very few viewpoints from rand himself in TOM. Like the 3rd book Dragon Reborn, TOM is meant to step away from Rand and view him from the viewpoints of others.
Someone also asked if Rand's ta'veren nature would affect people on the other side of an open gateway. Brandon said that the Pattern considers that Rand is where he is and not on the other side of the gateway, so he would not affect a place just by having a gateway open there and not actually being there.
Someone asked how the trollocs are getting enough food in the Blight, they can't just eat each other right? Brandon said that the number of trollocs in the blight currently is unsustainable over a long period of time but we should remember that the shadow does has access to channelers that can create gateways (implied: as a means to bring food TO the trollocs).
Someone asked if the Seanchan taking over the entire world would be a victory for the Light or the Dark. Brandon said it would be a victory for the light because the Dark One would not have won. He said that the Forsaken have different visions of what a victory for the Dark would mean. Ishamael thinks it will mean the destruction of everything and the end of time whereas Graendal thinks that he will remake the world.
Otherwise, many of the Q&A questions were things Brandon had answered previously such as why were the books split into 3...
Other Q&A summary
This part is from the un-official q&a during dinner and the questions I asked Brandon from before the signing.
I asked if he could confirm definitively that Cyndane is Lanfear and end of story since there were still some people saying maybe Cyndane isn't Lanfear. He said that anything regarding Lanfear is RAFO at this point because there is likely to be information about that in the next book and there are hints about what is going on with her in Towers of Midnight.
We discussed the gholam, if someone had pushed it through a gateway, would it have just died? Brandon said that gholam CAN go THROUGH gateways (from one place to another). Gholam are shadowspawn of a more perfected kind. It would have been way too easy to kill if you just needed to shove it through a gateway (to another place). However, falling through the Skimming gateway for a few minutes did kill the gholam and it is really dead and its not going to show up again. This makes me wonder now if one of Rand/Logain's deathgates would have killed it but I didn't think to ask at the time.
I also asked about how Asmodean was killed now that we know Graendal was "responsible" for his death. Brandon said that when he arrived at Harriet's and asked to see the ending and got the pile of Robert Jordan's notes including the ending, on top of that pile was a message from a fan in the form of a dialogue between a Sherlock Holmes character and a Watson character with a note from RJ saying "this is right". Emily asked if it was from Matt Hatch and Brandon didn't think it was. He said that he can probably give send me that message so we know exactly what RJ said "this is right" to.
This is apparently all of the information that is available from RJ himself about the actual method of Asmodean's murder. In Brandon's vision of the story, he imagines Graendal killed Asmodean (did the deed herself) with balefire, but apparently this is not in the notes. So its possible that it could have been done by another kind of weave and we are free to speculate on that.
I then asked about the RJ quote where he said that the place and the method of Asmodean's killer both mean that he couldn't come back. Brandon said this was also a RAFO as he couldn't tell us why the place was important at this point without giving something away. He seemed to know something about this reason (there is probably information about why someone killed in the place Asmodean was couldn't be brought back by the DO). I asked if whether "where" referred to the city of Caemlyn or something else and this was also a RAFO.
He also said that RJ's answer to Winespring Brother "The Dark One couldn't bring back Asmodean because of the combination of 2 factors: HOW HE DIED and WHERE HE DIED. Not one or the other, both factors." might be interpreted as both factors (each alone) would have prevented the DO from bringing Asmo back (and not just one or just the other) OR both factors (each alone) were not sufficient to prevent the DO from bringing Asmo back and the combination of both was required. It seemed to me like his vision of it was more the first answer than the second (both factors each alone would have prevented it).
I am guessing that we will learn about that in either AMOL or the encyclopedia, but probably AMOL. My personal theory is that there is perhaps some kind of magic tied to the city of Caemlyn that makes the dark one's power be lessened within that city itself and perhaps he cannot bring back anyone killed there. This is perhaps also a reason that he wants to make a strike at the city of Caemlyn with all of the trollocs very soon.
I asked about why Grady didn't tie off the gateways to move Perrin's troops if he was too tired to keep them open. Brandon says that this was part of the instructions he had, so he didn't want to change it (my speculation is that I think that means it was probably in the notes themselves but I don't know that for sure). He said that it makes sense for tieing off gateways to have a cost for the channeler to maintain because if it were so easy to create gateways and tie them off, it could be very breaking for the logistics of the world. If this were possible in the Age of Legends for example, why would anyone need a horse or a wagon or to develop any other kind of technology to transport anything? There could just be tied off gateways from everywhere to everywhere else.
I asked if there would be another Great Hunt for AMOL and Brandon said yes and he is thinking about putting in all the chapter names. He said we will notice in TOM that not all of the chapter names got put in because he took out some of the ones that he thought would be so easy to guess. Because of this filtering on the chapter names, he was impressed that we guessed so many. I told him that there were 6000 failed guesses we listed and about the list and search engine that was made by Theorylanders to avoid making the same wrong guesses and he was very impressed by that. He said Tor was surprised by the success of the Hunt and that they were very pleased.
I also asked if there was anything in AMOL like the big un-noticed thing in TOM that we should look for. He said there are lots of little things that come to fruition in interesting ways. I said yeah, I can't wait to see how "his blood on the rooks of Shayol Ghul" turns out. Do you know there are some people that think Elayne will have her babies on SG and that will fulfill the prophecy? He said well, Elayne is like 4 months pregnant at this point... Lots of things are possible with the One Power though. In my mind, this debunks that theory somewhat .
At dinner, Cuthbert told us in detail about his involvement with the last clue. He had to get up on the chair of the photobooth to look at what was on top and a lot of the security guards were looking at him funny. He also got a lot of twitter followers and people encouraging him to go get the clue.
Julien asked if the incident where Perrin comes back from TAR with blood of someone else on his face was a mistake or something else (usually you get blood from your own wounds but not others when exiting TAR). Brandon said remembering thinking it was odd at the time when he read it but asked for an email and find out for that question.
He also asked if Rand had quit smoking since we hadn't seen him smoking tabac recently. Brandon says that if he can't get Two Rivers tabac he would rather not smoke anything and Rand has been a busy guy lately. He compared it to being used to really good french wine and then having only bad American wine available, in which case Rand would rather not consume. Rather funny.
Julien also asked what "Shanna'har" meant and he said that he had asked Alan for a word that meant "commemoration" in the old tongue.
He also asked what was the riddle that the Snakes & Foxes told Rand that gave him the answer about how to cleanse saidin. We know their answer to how can I win the Last Battle, how can I survive the Last Battle and we know the result of rand's third answer about cleansing the Source but we don't know what the "riddle" was. Brandon was not sure if he could tell us this without giving something away so he got an email and find out on this question.
Someone asked about why the clouds are clearing and whether they were clearing around the certain of the important women in the story. Brandon said that the clouds are clearing around Rand, but it has not been specified whether that's because of ta'veren, the Fisher King or another reason entirely. He said that the clouds had cleared over Avi in the Waste and we have not seen whether the clouds have cleared over Tuon, but Tuon is still somewhat behind the other characters at the end of TofM. He also said the clouds have not cleared over Seandar.
Cuthbert gave Brandon packs of Magic cards in Italian and Brandon had him sign one of the cards, which was neat.
Other things we discussed included the Mistborn movie (Brandon has seen a screenplay and it was pretty good, but the project is not for sure going to be made). Dreamworks Animation has the rights to Alcatraz and Red Eagle has the rights to Wheel of Time.
There was an April Fools joke at one point that Lindsay Lohan was going to play Vin in the movie by Brandon's friend Dan wells who does the Writing Excuses podcast for aspiring writers with Brandon. If you haven't listened to their podcast yet you should, its quite entertaining even for people who have no desire to become writers. Brandon mentioned that maybe about 50% of the audience is listening just for fun and may not have an actual desire to become professional authors.
Finally, Brandon told us that he is likely coming back to Europe next year. He wants to get to the UK very much and will likely go to the Imaginales d'epinal convention which is in March. He said that he generally has more time at conventions to do things like play Magic than at signings as there are events over multiple days, parties, etc...
We discussed Demandred, I don't remember how or why it came up, but I said that the most popular theory currently is that he's Roederan of Murandy. I didn't ask who Demandred is because I knew that would get a big fat RAFO. He said "aren't there a lot of people who think its Paitar"? I said not that I knew as, RJ said we hadn't seen Demandred's alias on-screen prior to KOD and we had seen Paitar before. Roderan is basically the only important king of Randland or one of them that we haven't seen on screen. He didn't deny or confirm any of the above.
All this talk about gateways now has me curious if gateways always have to be flat or if there could ever be a curved gateway. But I didn't think to ask that. For example, could you make a spherical gateway around somebody with the destination being a fiery pit and they couldn't move otherwise they'd be toast? If someone made a circular gateway, how would that look on the other side (a big round sphere of nothing... ?)
We talked about the order of the chapters as some people were confused by tam being in 2 places at once. Brandon said there was no way around this as they had to catch Perrin up. Then we asked if there was a chance of getting the last 3 books re-released with the chapters in chronological order. He said this might be possible as an e-book or maybe a rearranged audiobook. Only the chapter orders would be changed.
Author's note: You couldn't fit it all in one published book and it would just be weird to have 3 separate volumes published again with the chapters in different orders. I could totally see an ebook or one huge rearranged audiobook though as something attractive and maybe not too costly to produce that some HCFFs like us would enjoy having.
Finally, here are some pictures of my books.
TOM with dead Narg (awesome):
Contents of my backpack before going to the signing (that thing was heavy)!!