Most Wheel of Time fans know that Robert Jordan, besides being an avid writer, was an avid reader. On the lastest episode of Wheel of Time Spoilers, Wilson Grooms—Jordan's relative—stated that Jordan was reading one book a day. This led his personal library to reach over 10,000 books. And that collection will soon be available for purchase from Mr. K’s Used Books, CDs, DVDs and More: For those in the areas, the four Mr. K's locations are in Asheville, North Carolina, Charleston and Greenville, South Carolina, and Johnson City, Tennessee. You can see a map of their locations here. Don't miss out on the opportunity of owning one of Robert Jordan's personal books!
Our friends at Wheel of Time Spoilers reached their milestone 100th episode while attending JordanCon 10. To celebrate this prestigious event, Seth and Patrick sat down with Jason Denzel, Brad Kane, and Wilson Grooms. To listen to Episode 100, click here! This episode, recorded live at JordanCon, delved into many topics. Most importantly being the current status of The Wheel of Time television show. During the Team Jordan panel at JordanCon, Jason asked Harriet McDougal of the show’s fate. For those unable to attend that panel, Jason shares the basics here. Wilson, who has been a big part of The Wheel of Time fandom, including helping Robert Jordan update his blog posts during his treatments, also shares some fond memories. Wilson talks about Jordan’s love for reading, his days in the military, and the process of publishing The Wheel of Time stories. For more from Wheel of Time Spoilers, you can check out their recent interview with Dragonmount, their website, or their new spin-off of sorts, Mistborn Spoilers.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of JordanCon. It's truly amazing that the dedication and loyalty of so many Wheel of Time lovers has turned this convention with a modest beginning into a yearly pilgrimage for many fans. The depth of love from all the people involved--from the staff, to the volunteers, to the attendees--is a testament to Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time series. To celebrate the milestone of ten amazing years, during the opening ceremonies, a video overview was shown. It highlighted Robert Jordan, his fight with amyloidosis, and the following years of JordanCon where his life and his life's work were/are celebrated. After this played for the crowd of con-goers, I can pretty much guarantee there was not a dry eye. You can view the video here. Even without being surrounded by hundreds of other fans, this is still beautifully touching. The song fit the theme of this year's JordanCon, SeanCon: the Return. But the deeper meaning is there. If you've ever had the privilege of attending a Wheel of Time related event, you know that meeting fellow fans is like a homecoming.
This year’s JordanCon was epic in proportion, first because it was the tenth year of the convention (according to Jennifer Liang, everyone thought the first JordanCon would be the last JordanCon), and second because this year marks the 20th anniversary of Dragonmount. Arriving Thursday night was like coming home to a group of very good friends. After checking into my hotel room around midnight, I headed down to the lobby and promptly began deep, philosophical discussions about The Wheel of Time series with none other than Paul Bielaczyc—though there was a moment when he got The Wheel of Time mixed up with HG Wells’ The Time Machine…. That, in a nutshell, is JordanCon. Approach any person, say hello, and they’re your friend for life. This year’s lineup of panels and guests was colossal. If I had to list a negative part of the Con experience this year, it was that too many amazing panels happened simultaneously. I had many difficult decisions to make, and I feel many other Con-goers had the same dilemma. This year’s Toastmaster, and Empress—may she live forever—of the Seanchan’s glorious Return was Aubree Pham. The Seanchan theme continued throughout the event, including a game in which members of the Low Blood were required to eliminate members of the High Blood. Even the annual Saturday night dance party was the Homecoming: One Night in Falme. Naturally, the Author Guest of Honor for the year of Dragonmount’s 20th birthday was Jason Denzel. He attended many panels, hosted a Kaffeeklatsch, read a snippet of the next series he plans after the Mystic trilogy is finished, and talked at length with Matt Hatch of Theoryland about the origins of their respective websites—including an incident that happened at JordanCon 1 involving Brandon Sanderson’s newly finished, and unpublished copy of The Gathering Storm, Brandon’s credit card, and a Kinkos. The Artist Guest of Honor was Stephanie Law. Her artwork was spectacularly displayed in the vendor’s hall, and she dazzled attendees with a watercolor demo. The highlight was the “Women in Illustration” panel, with other artists, Ariel Burgess, Melissa Gay, Amanda Makepeace, and Angela Sasser. In another panel, Stephanie, Angela, and Ariel also helped explain Patreon—the ins and outs of the subscription service, and how to determine if it’s a worthwhile investment of your time and energy. For me, personally, one of the best moments was being inducted as an Asha’man into Bill Nesbitt’s Black Tower. I worked very hard on my Asha’man costume to be ready for the pinning ceremony. But even better was the Wheel of Time discussion at the party afterward. For more than an hour, there was a healthy debate over the nature of the Creator and the Dark One, and whether it was possible that Rand was actually the Creator. The next day, I talked to Matt Hatch, and he solved the debate in less than a minute. Though his presence at the party would have solved it quickly, as the Knights Radiant are fond of saying: “Journey before destination.” For the Daes Dae’mar trivia contest, Dragonmount had an official team entry! It consisted of myself, Verbal32, Keyholder21, Songstress, Hallia, Kathleen, and Leelou, plus four other friends we found along the way: Monica, Jeanine, Anna, and Natalie. Through our valiant efforts, we tied for second place. The dreaded Theresa Gray (Terez from Theoryland) determined our answers were subpar, so she awarded the other team, The Salty Wetlanders, second place, and awarded us third. Naturally, the team Gap of Infinity—consisting of Theorylanders—won first place. We’ll have to do a rematch next year. So Dragonmounters, start your re-reads and be prepared! And though Dragonmount’s birthday isn’t until September—Jenn Liang was very definitive of the month—we still celebrated! We had as many people as possible crammed into a suite, and while everyone chatted and indulged in merry-making, we also had a Wheel of Time spelling bee. We were doing okay until we got the word “Ta'maral'ailen.” Jason couldn’t pronounce it. Brandon couldn’t pronounce it. Maria Simons (of Team Jordan fame), wasn’t in the room. But we did have contestants successfully spell Tel’aran’hriod, Tarmon Gai’don, and Asmodean, to name a few (that last one was me). I also had several opportunities to talk with Seth and Patrick from Wheel of Time Spoilers. They even mentioned how they kicked off their newest podcast Mistborn Spoilers. They’re starting at the very beginning of the first trilogy, so make sure to start while it’s new! This was my fifth JordanCon, and it was the best of the bunch so far! The guests were amazingly friendly and accessible. The game hall had activities going nonstop. Every corner of the hotel was filled with people who love The Wheel of Time as much as me. If there’s such a thing as paradise on Earth, it’s JordanCon! You can already order tickets for JordanCon 11: Shai’Con. The Guest of Honor will be Brent Weeks, author of The Night Angel trilogy and the Lightbringer series. The Artist Guest of Honor will be Dan dos Santos, well known in our circle for his ebook cover of the The Fires of Heaven, as well as the cover of Warbreaker. The Toastmaster will be Paul Bielaczyc—which is self-explanatory since the theme is Shai’Con. If you missed out on the fun this year, don’t make the same mistake for next year! I hope to see you all there! You can see a collection of JordanCon pictures in the Dragonmount Gallery, or browse through the JordanCon Facebook group!
This summer, PBS is hosting an eight-part series dedicated to discovering America's favorite books. A list of 100 books have been selected, and the PBS series will focus on narrowing down these top picks to select one winner. Naturally, The Wheel of Time series is included on this list. The first episode—which premieres May 22nd—will consist of a two-hour introduction, highlighting each of the 100 books, and what they have contributed to American culture. The show will continue with one-hour episodes in a documentary style with authors, celebrities, and book lovers, discussing the nominated books. The finale will air in October and the winner will be announced. Here’s where you come in. The point of the show is to narrow the results, and to do so, PBS is asking Americans to vote! We all know The Wheel of Time fandom is the best in the world, so we’re calling on all of you to let everyone know how amazing our beloved series is. Voting will open on May 22, in conjunction with the two-hour premier, and can be done online and through social media outlets. Follow “The Great American Read” on their website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And always check back to Dragonmount for updates!
It wouldn’t be JordanCon without a new, Wheel of Time related costume. The convention starts tomorrow, so in preparation, I made myself an Asha’man coat. I’ve been wanting one forever—some of you might remember when I posted this picture of what I envisioned a female Asha’man coat to be like. JordanCon 10, plus Dragonmount’s 20-year anniversary, seemed like the best time to make my dream a reality. First, I started with this pattern, selection D. The military style seemed to fit my vision, and I loved that it had a high collar. The pattern is classified as “easy,” but it was the trickiest pattern I’ve sewn to date. My Aes Sedai and sul’dam dresses were much easier. Either way, I followed the directions for the jacket, but I skipped the lining. I used black poplin—an inexpensive and forgiving fabric—for the project, with a few snippets of a white satin for the pockets, and about a yard of interfacing. I probably spent less than $15 on the fabrics. A great deal for such an ambition outfit. The most impressive thing is how much the coat flairs out! It's got a ton of fabric in the sides giving it an extra fluff. I gave myself the time frame of a week to complete this. I finished it in a week. I took my time, allowing breaks when the sewing grew monotonous. In all, I’d estimate the number of hours as fifteen, total. Of course, I still consider myself an apprentice seamstress, so a more skilled worker could probably finish it in much less! A modification I added to this was using Velcro to fasten the front close instead of installing real buttons and button holes. I sewed the buttons to the front flap to give the illusion of actual button holes. This was to prevent puckering of the fabric between the buttons. My button choice was calculated, though I discovered later that there were yin-yang buttons on Etsy. I may change out my buttons at some point in the future. But for now, I selected these. I bought them from SAS Fabrics, a warehouse chain in the Phoenix area. These have an industrial feel to them I really love! For the completed outfit, I paired my jacket with black nylons and black boots. I must say, I love it! To celebrate JordanCon, I also indulged and bought myself the Badali Dedicated/Asha’man pin set! It used up my birthday present for the year, but it’s worth it. (Picture with those forthcoming after my Black Tower pinning ceremony!) Be sure to follow the JordanCon Facebook page to keep up to date with the festivities!
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. If you want to check out more from Wheel of Time Spoilers, you can visit their website, Facebook page, Twitter, Discord channel, and support them on Patreon.
Only a week to go until JordanCon! The convention, dedicated to Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time series, takes place April 20th through the 22nd in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m very excited to see many of the authors this year, including Aaron-Michael Hall, the award-winning author of The Rise of Nazil series. Q: Welcome Aaron-Michael! Your tag line says you are a writer of “diverse epic fantasy and science fantasy with an edge.” What does it mean to have an edge in your works and how do you incorporate it while writing? Thank you for having me! When I speak of an edge, it’s in reference to content that many would refer to as ‘dark fantasy’ or ‘grimdark.’ Although my epic fantasy series doesn’t fit in either of the aforementioned categories, those elements of darker fantasy are entrenched within the plot. My Nazil series is intended for mature readers who aren’t nettled by some brutalities that are strictly used for characterization and integral to the plot. These grimmer aspects are interwoven into a richly detailed plot…they’re not used in place of the plot or to shock the reader. Some of the harsher realities of Faélondul are grim, but the instances are few. Q: You write your epic fantasy novels under Aaron-Michael Hall, and your science fantasy romance novels under Newland Moon. Why do you feel it is important to keep these genres separate? I felt that it is important to separate the genres due to the distinct differences in the novels. Although my writing style remains consistent, the depth and subject matter is disparate. For instance, when first published, The Rise of Nazil was 350k words. In comparison, Rites of Heirdron (book I of my science fantasy) is 70k words. I didn’t want my epic fantasy readers to expect the exact duplication in the differing genres. My science fantasy is compelling with the same multifaceted characterization that my readers love, but scaled to fit a shorter novel integrating a seamless merge of sci-fi and fantasy. Q: Do you have a current project you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about? Currently, I’m editing my second trilogy in the Nazil series, proofing the second novel in my Kurintor duology, and completing a new fantasy novel titled Tamesa that I’m co-authoring with Tom Fallwell. This will be Tom’s first year at JordanCon. I wanted my newest release available for JordanCon this year. Kurintor Nyusi is a diverse high fantasy without my usual grimdark edge. It’ll be a great addition for fantasy fans and fits perfectly with JordanCon’s theme. Q: For your epic fantasy series, you’ve created a whole language, called Mehlonii, and even had book trailers where this language is spoken. I think that’s incredible! Why did you develop this intricate part of your world and how big of a role does it take within the novels? I’m asked that question often. J When I began writing the Nazil series, developing languages for the differing species and races was natural. I never asked: should I? Mehlonii (and a few other languages) developed along with the plot and characters. As the world grew, so did the divergent inhabitants and their languages. On the Mehlonii page of my website, I also have the spoken dialogue from the novels organized by page number. When I updated The Rise of Nazil this year, I had to update the voice files, too. If anyone is curious about how Mehlonii sounds, they can visit my website: aaronmichaelhall.com/Mehlonii. I’ve enjoyed creating, writing, and speaking the language. Even my son knows a few key words. The Mehlonii language isn’t overdone in the books. It’s in enhancement to the characters, cultures, and story. Mehlonii is an integral element bringing some of the fantastical back into epic fantasy. Q: How much time/research/effort went into creating the Mehlonii language? I’ve always loved languages and studied several in school. However, the prosodic, isochronal, lexical and regular stressors found in Amharic, Arabic, Latin, Hebrew, and Klingon (yes, Klingon) are favorites of mine. Some of the lexical stressors in Amharic, Arabic, and Klingon are similar in Mehlonii. It’s a melodious and prosodic (intonation, tone, stress, and rhythm) spoken language with some rougher stressors that are dependent upon phrasing. Mehlonii is still evolving, and the dictionary continues to grow. I didn’t want to overcomplicate the language like some do. A language is supposed to make communication easier (and possible), not more difficult. The most simplistic language that I researched had merely 340 words. Taki Taki (also called Sranan) has an interesting origin and is a mix of several languages. I listened to and researched hundreds of languages before developing more of my own. I knew how I wanted it to sound and what I needed it to do. In the end, it was more about my created cultures and how they appeared and sounded to me. At times, I’m writing and just speak a ‘word’ or phrase and something clicks. Then, I start googling after I’ve decided how to spell the word. It’s probably impossible to create something that doesn’t sound like anything else with the incalculable languages across the world. However, I endeavor to do just that, and I thoroughly enjoy the process. Q: The world of Faélondul has many new species, including the Nazilians. Can you explain a bit about what makes these species different? One thing that I didn’t want to do was to have the same species and creatures found in most fantasies. I love elves, dragons, dwarfs, etc., I just don’t want to write about them. I introduce several different species and races throughout the series: Nazilians, Ohor, Syahndru, Z’brachieyn, Naidisians, Dessalonians, my lovable and formidable Desu Beasts, and a few others (You can see illustrations of some at my booths. I have commissioned a lot of artwork for my series). The Nazilians are an intriguing and ordered species, guided by their deities and the Cha (priests) who speak for them. Their leader (the Zaxson), Draizeyn, is the ruler of Faélondul, and commands the formidable Chosen Guard. The Nazilian origin isn’t revealed until book II (Seed of Scorn), but the species is quite detailed in The Rise of Nazil. Unlike the diverse human population, the Nazilians share like features: hair, eye, and skin color. Other than those distinct differences, they are much like humans. Howbeit, they are quite adept at reminding the humans of their place, which happens to be beneath them. Q: Some of your works are featured as “convention exclusive” items. Will you be showcasing any of these at JordanCon this year? Yes. I have three items that are only available at conventions: the Mehlonii Dictionary (with graphics and maps), The Guardians’ Rise (a graphic introduction to the Nazil series, including a prelude with custom artwork, insights into the series, character profiles with pictures, stats, favorite quotes, and over forty commissioned character concepts from all of my series), and a Faélondul coloring book. With the updates to the first trilogy, I’m updating the dictionary and The Guardians’ Rise as well. They might not be ready before the convention, but I always have coloring books available. Although it’s titled Faélondul, I have characters from my science fantasy and my newest epic included in the coloring book. Q: What is it about JordanCon that made you want to be a guest author? The atmosphere at JordanCon is amazing. Of all of the conventions I’ve attended, JordanCon is my favorite. It’s not only the varied and talented creatives. The staff, volunteers, and attendees are exceptional as well. JordanCon delivers in every area seamlessly and is the perfect family event for fantasy lovers and fans. I’ve been telling everyone that this is the event to attend in Atlanta. They’ve even begun reading Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. It’s a win-win. Q: Can you give us a sneak peek of which panels you’ll be on? Absolutely! You can see me at the following panel discussions: Diversity in Brandon’s Works, Being Gratuitous, 3…2…1…Flash Fic!, possibly Urban Fantasy Hour, and Learn From My Mistakes (I signed up for this one, but I’m not certain if I was selected). I’d love to chat it up with everyone and have a great time! Of course, you can visit me at my vendor tables, too. I guarantee that you won’t be able to miss me. J Q: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or your works? I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone this year. If you love epic fantasy with some fantastic characters doing amazing things (sometimes bad, too), come on over and have a chat with me. I create diverse novels with a host of characters and cultures. I’ll even have some sample chapters to give away, a few book giveaways, and I’m just fun to talk with! So, come on by and say hello. I won’t bite, unless I’m required to do so. Also, I’ve updated my debut novel The Rise of Nazil. I’m bringing several extra copies if anyone who purchased it last year would like to trade with me. No strings. If you bring your book from last year, I’ll sign a new one for you. No charge. However, I have limited copies to give away. Those books are quite heavy. Epic Fantasy authors Morgan Smith (Canada) and Tom Fallwell (Oklahoma) will be with me! It’s their first year attending, but it won’t be there last. Come by and chat with us! Q: Thank you so much for talking with me Aaron-Michael! I’m looking forward to hearing you talk about your novels. Thank you for having me! I’m thrilled to have been included and can’t wait to meet you. Faélondul Awaits! For more on Aaron-Michael Hall, you can check out her website, or follow her on her social media outlets: Book Bub Amazon Facebook Twitter YouTube Google+ Instagram Pinterest Author's Database
JordanCon is just around the corner! The convention, dedicated to Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time series, takes place April 20th through the 22nd in Atlanta, Georgia. This year, there are many authors that write across the large spectrum of speculative fiction. But Sargon Donabed started with academic non-fiction focusing on folklore before starting to write his fantasy novels. He also has a PhD in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and is currently working on a MS in Anthrozoology/Animal Studies. Q: Thank you for joining me, Sargon! Your rich background in ancient and modern societies is impressive. Does this knowledge give you a jumping off point for building your own fantasy worlds? Thank you for the interview Mashiara. It’s very kind of you to offer me this opportunity for folks to get to know my work. To answer the question, yes. Only recently had I recognized that some of the (mostly minoritized and indigenous) communities I work with/on, are not only marginalized in their own regions, but also in fantasy literature. Noticing the palpable hunger for distinct perspectives on fantasy, especially through recent works in the field, has led me to rethink ways in which I could offer my reflections, through the imaginative process, on the struggles, triumphs, and simply the lives of those with less of a voice. Q: What correlations do you see between fantasy tropes and mythology? Do you think there any new ideas or is everything rehashed from old beliefs? That is an interesting question. I suppose I see little or no difference. In a course I recently taught, my students began reading Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces then moved to Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth. Campbell of course speaks of a holistic approach and refers to the heroic epic as the monomyth, reflective of human desires in all societies. Armstrong on the other hand shows the progression of the ways in which a changing human society described its place in the world, as it also explained the surrounding world. I think new ideas are always formed, but I do think they are necessarily directly created from old ideas. In other words, I do not believe things exist in a vacuum though I do see a holism to existence. Q: You’re currently working on two fantasy series. One, a retelling of Gilgamesh, is intended for a YA audience. Can you tell us your plans for those stories? I think I can. At least I hope so. So, the work is meant to be a traditional trilogy, though I am writing the second book first. Long story. In any case, book one Lineage of the Ancients is a fantasy steeped in Mesopotamian lore and set on a parallel world where the earth is an ecotopian paradise resplendent with ancient creatures and magical beings. It blends historical fantasy and alternate history where Gilgamesh, King of the ancient city of Uruk in Mesopotamia and designer of civilization, died confronting Humbaba, beast of the cedar forest, while Enkidu, his semi-feral companion, survived. Thanks to Enkidu’s ingestion of the elixir of life, which in our version Gilgamesh found and lost, Enkidu and his particularly undomesticated brand of Mesopotamian culture lived on as a prevailing ethos (rather than a cradle of human civilization), governing the Near East and surrounding regions. A place where reverence for the natural world and the ancient deity Shakkan/Sumuqan, lord of the wild and its denizens, stands as patron. Since I started with book two, I suppose I should speak of that first. Scion of the Ancients, shadows a brother and sister, Nem and Sina growing up along the New England coastal forests with their stalwart and respective feline and canine companions, a Bengal cat and kugsha-tamaskan mix, meet a shaggy unkempt and largely feral recluse who claims the children are of an ancient lineage through which they have been gifted with the power to meld – to transform or merge into animal state, able to interact with them and their communities. At least a child of the untamed has such abilities. A child of the hand maintains an innate ability, driven by the creative spark, to fashion objects of power. The children themselves have this primordial magic due to their relation to a prehistoric Mesopotamian lineage which includes an ability to meld, but only if they are able to procure a nasaru, a guardian/protector, who incidentally, have been hunted to extinction since the fall of ancient Assyria! This revelation coincides with the mysterious arrival of Taela, a peculiar young woman who speaks their native language (sort of) as well as seemingly communicate with their animal companions. But what is perhaps most mind boggling for the young siblings is why Taela insists on an audience with the famed King of Uruk, Gilgamesh, an ancient historical figure dead and buried over 4,000 years ago! Q: Your other series is going to be high fantasy. Why types of magic systems will this series include? Well, here is an older elevator pitch. Explaining anything to 8-year olds is taxing – try explaining they might be gods. Ancient races and deities enter human reality in this epic fantasy entitled Of Beasts and Mischief: The Unremembered Book One, at 100,000 words. The novel follows the travails of a teenage girl with an ability to ride souls and a young man problematically preoccupied with a not-so-forgotten myth as they investigate the origins of two furtive children with mystical abilities. If I gave a bit more detail - The story centers on 4 major characters from distinct communities who have each received a summons from a winged messenger working for the confederation of Nirad with the great honor to participate in the Drasha, a contest/reenactment of the ancient rite of passage for initiates of a long dead mythical race. What the participants do not realize is the contest is real and the stakes are not only life and death, but also the very existence of all they hold dear. Their only clue to completing the Drasha unscathed is a book of fables for children entitled, The Unremembered. Q: How do you balance your academic studies, your academic teaching, and your writing? I don’t. Hell, half the time I fall into a new world, half asleep. It’s tough to be honest. I am still learning. But the academic job pays the bills for now. More important is a good balance for family life and play. Tough in the never-ending New England winters, but important none the less. I must say I would love a few years just swimming and enjoying the sun on a beach, surrounded by pristine nature. So, imagining that as a possibility always helps! Yoga, martial arts, soccer, hiking, time with friends and family, enjoying the good of the earth with a sense of reverence; those things are important. Q: You’ve published many academic papers and articles. When did your desire for writing fiction come about? Money. I wanted to make lots of money. Like, sick money. You know the kind that Bieber has…? Legit joke. Beyond that… I suppose I recognized that fantasy literature had more of a profound effect on my writing, even as an academic, than any academic work I had ever written. From the academic side, I recall the impression left on me by Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien: Myth and Modernity by Patrick Curry. If you have not read it, I suggest you do so. I was enamored by his sense of re-enchanting reality and the natural world against the machine of modernity. I love that. I think the wonder and hope that children inherently have can make us better creatures. Kinder, have more empathy. I think fantasy can teach this in a way other avenues can’t, or don't. Q: Which fantasy authors have had an influence on your writing? Certainly, Robert Jordan. You’d had to have read my first monograph but, I top quoted one of my favorite lines about forging metal. I also thanked him in my intro. Plus, I entitled my first monograph Reforging a Forgotten History: Iraq and the Assyrians in the 20th century. So much Perrin in there. And Rand. And Sanderson I suppose. Shout out to Tolkien of course. Tad Williams world of Osten Ard. Ray Feist’s Magician – Midkemia is a wonderfully rich and, I believe grounding (in an ongoing active sense) is the right term, world with Pug and Tomas. Robin Hobb’s Assassin work, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance and Deathgate Cycle work is just splendid and were my entrance into fantasy literature. More recently I fell in love with Erickson and Esselmont’s Malazan works – dear God are they intricate and dense. Grittier than what I hope to offer but their depth is unparalleled in my opinion. For kids works, I adore the Fablehaven series of Brandon Mull, read and reread numerous times, and can’t wait to read it to my daughter. Of course, Riordan’s Percy et al have reinvigorated a classical mythological world for a modern audience and made me think it just might be possible to chat about Mesopotamia and Assyria in a way that would attract an audience. Time shall tell. Q: Why did you decide to pick JordanCon to visit this year? The intimacy of a small venue. By small I speak in comparison to DragonCon or something of the like. Last year I found staff and attendees to be affable in their general attitude and kind as well as generous in their opinions of their passions. Plus, I think it’s vital to honor master storytellers. If nothing else we are a race of beings in need of myths to inspire and comfort us, I think high fantasy at its best leaves room for goodness, and fills us with hope. Q: Can you give us a sneak peek of which panels you’ll be on? Sure. I shall be on the following: Writing in a Sub-Culture, Great Fight Scenes, What should we be reading? Additionally, when I spoke with Thom a while back, I thought it may be fun to talk about how to integrate RJ/WOT into an academic course/setting. From that, there was crafted a Teaching Robert Jordan panel – “Discussing the importance of narrative storytelling, myth, & fantasy to the greater world, and as a gateway to student learning.” I’m stoked about that one. Ordinarily I only get to talk to academics about the course, so I’m thrilled to be inspired by ideas from people immersed in RJ/WOT and fantasy in general. Q: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or your works? Hmmm. I suppose I am most proud of myself (you know the me who loves fantasy and JordanCon etc.) for sneaking in some concepts/quotes into my academic works from some of my favorite fantasy series. I would love more feedback to see if there are others out there interested in my work. I hope that one of the things I can ignite in the hearts (besides acid indigestion) of others is a deeper connection to our non-human animal companions, and the natural world in general. It is necessary that we change our way of interacting with the world around us. Begin to look at others as siblings, companions, fellow subjects in this magical world, this life. Q: Thank you so much for talking with me. I’m looking forward to hearing your expertise on folklore and mythology! Thank you for the interview Mashiara. To find out more about Sargon Donabed you can visit his website.