I recently had the chance to ask the guys of tWoTcast.com a few questions. For those of you who are not familiar with tWoTcast, it's a Wheel of Time reread podcast. Although they have set chapters that they cover each episode, they also talk about the rest of the series during the show. So, you may be listening to an episode about book one, and something from book five will pop up. As Jono warns in episode 24, "Beware of spoilers. They hide in corners and shadows just like Myrddraal." Some of the answers in this interview might have spoilers, so I will put them at the end after another spoiler warning. I think the guys do a really good job combining jokes with serious talk about the books throughout the episodes. Now, without further ado, here is the interview I had with Jono, Joe, and Tom.
Q: First off, can you introduce yourselves and tell the readers a little bit about yourselves as individuals outside of the podcast?
Hello. I'm Tom--I like drinking, smoking, and watching Megan Rapinoe stick it to Columbians. I hate everyone who didn't like the final episode of Lost. I'm not sure what's wrong with people who don't read Saga. I'll probably end up in prison after I go insane when they cancel Community. My girlfriend’s last name is Bacon, so I'm conflicted about what to do when we get married.
um...Hi, everyone. I'm Joe--I also like drinking and smoking, but only together. I like all my vices wrapped up in one nice package. Tom and I are brothers (just throwing that out there) so a lot of our likes and dislikes are similar excepting the fact that we don't like each other. One of my favorite things to do after recording and drinking is to watch Ocean's 11/12/13 over and over again, and I still play Goldeneye64 on a regular basis.
I'm Jono. I don't actually exist outside of this recording studio. I'm actually an offshoot of Joe's usually rational brain that only comes to fruition after a couple drinks of very cheap vodka. Tom thinks Joe is insane because of me.
In my made up existence, I play soccer as often as I can (frequently trying to injure my knee). I also have a strange but comfortable government job that allows me to do all my reading at work. Really, I do nothing of value in my life. It's pretty sweet. Oh, I also drink and lie to women in a creepy but sometimes erotic manner.
Q: For those who haven't listened to you guys yet, or those who aren't very far into the podcast yet, how did you guys get started on the idea of a podcast for the Wheel of Time?
Tom- It was all my idea. And we were drunk. But Jono and Joe actually pushed to make it happen, and have been dragging me along kicking and screaming the whole time.
Joe- It goes back years before we even started, but it was Tom's idea to do a podcast. I don't know when or how we settled on a tWoT podcast, but it was definitely while all three of us were drinking together one night and just like the three ta'veren in the books, there was originally going to be a fourth member of tWoTcast, but who needs Dav and his badger anyway.
Jono- Well, we got drunk. And talked about books. And then Tom started rambling on about making a podcast and it just somehow snowballed (if you know what I mean) into an actual thing. Joe and I forced him into it at first and then all of the sudden he just gave in to my erotic whisperings and went with it. I have to be honest; the name was my idea. Which means it was a bad idea. And somehow it happened.
Joe- I was against the name. I remember Tom and I had gone out to breakfast and he sat there and spent the entire time convincing me it would be ok.
Q: When did you start reading The Wheel of Time?
Tom- 1992. Damn.
Joe- It was Tom's fault. I hadn't read anything more complicated than Dragonlance at the time, so in 1994, he said "read this" (classic Tom), but it wasn’t until 1995 that I finally got past the first prologue.
Jono- I think 1995. I saw the artwork for Eye of the World and just thought it was awesome. So, Darrell K. Sweet, you win. Nowadays I frequently trash the artwork at the beginning of talking about each book, so that's something.
Q: How many times have you each read all of the books up to Towers of Midnight?
Tom- Probably around ten or so for the first eight books. Somewhere between two and five for the others. These are guesses. Who counts things? Bad Sesame Street joke. Bad Tootsie Pop joke. Hilarious owl sound effect. Laughter. How many licks--never mind.
Joe- I count things. It takes two thousand three hundred and seventeen licks with moderate saliva to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop. Also...about the same as Tom. Around nine or ten for the first six books; books seven and eight drop a bit for me, but book nine comes in around nine times too. I love Winter's Heart. Then books ten through thirteen are three, two, one, and one. We're currently on our Gathering Storm reread and it’s really fun only having read it once unlike everything else so far.
Jono- It should be noted that Joe and I massively disagree on how many licks it really takes, but I have always been able to produce more saliva. It’s work related.
I'm not completely sure of the totals, so I'll guess. I think I've read books 1-7 at least 10 times. I remember I finished book 6 right when book 7 came out, so it's my first hardback. Or was... it's destroyed. For the rest you pretty much countdown one reading per book, so: Path of Daggers 8; Winter’s Heart 7; Crossroads of Twilight 6; Knife of Dreams 5; Gathering Storm 3; Towers of Midnight once about to be twice. And A Memory of Light twice. Don't ask, but it’s good. Like really good.
Q: How many conventions have you gone to with Wheel of Time tracks? Which was your favorite?
Tom- Just Dragon*Con and JordanCon. The first JordanCon was amazing because we got to hear a recording of RJ reading the prologue of book 12. Dragon*Con was ridiculous last year because we had media badges and people thought we were important and we conducted a lot of drunken interviews.
Joe- Most recently LibertyCon, but always JordanCon and Dragon*Con. We've been to all the JordanCons, a source of pride though they are in our backyard, but my favorite was probably JordanCon 4. The LIVE show went off without any technical issues and the audience seemed genuinely entertained, so that's always good.
Jono- I guess we’ve been to six or seven? All four JordanCons, obviously. My most memorable was JordanCon 1 when we heard Robert Jordan read the prologue. Amazing. Also, either Dragon*Con last year or JordanCon earlier this year, as the eminent tWoTcast was LIVE there. And we will be again this year so come to Dragon*Con!
Q: What is the best part of doing a podcast in your opinion? The worst?
Tom- Best- it's a built in excuse to drink with friends and talk about something I love. The same reason people watch sports. Interacting with listeners is a ton of fun, too. Worst- consistent delivery is key. So if you're sick or busy or not in the mood you still have to read and record. That's a minor complaint though. At the end of the day I'm just drinking beer and talking. Joe does all the hard work.
Joe- Best- my favorite part is definitely the stuff that only we get to see, the looks on each other’s faces when someone (Jono) says something waaay over the line or just a really funny comment. Tom makes me laugh a lot but I’ve known him for quite a while and understand his odd sense of humor. Worst- We do try really hard to get a show out every week. The only time we really had a gap over the last year and half or so was last holiday season, I think we took two weeks off. I don't think listeners realize how hard that can get to be that consistent with delivery of the show. But yeah, that's the worst when every once in a million years it becomes a job to get together or to cut the podcast on time.
Jono- We're really good friends getting drunk and talking about books. This literally is what we did before the show started. I mean...it's pretty awesome. And somehow a few people like us despite us being generally [jerks]. Especially Tom. Also, it should be noted that I actually got laid partially because of this podcast. Some chick I knew heard about it and thought it was cool that I was interested enough in some subject to do a show on it. She's on book 2 now. And we're kind of dating. And she'll be at Dragon*Con. So come to Dragon*Con and make fun of her.
The worst is that we live in separate areas and have work the next day. So if we start drinking, then recording and all, it's like 11 before I hit the road. I'm not sure how I haven't gotten pulled over, honestly, so if the show doesn't come out for a bit or I'm not on it, look there. Plus, I feel bad for Joe. We do our best to cover expenses for him, but I have the feeling that unlike me, Joe has things to do besides edit the show.
Q: Can you tell me about the steps you guys take in actually recording/posting the show?
Tom- No. I can't. Joe does it. I show up and drink. A lot.
Joe- Sure. Tom usually chops the books into equal parts for each episode, Jono brings over alcohol and pizza, and then we proceed to get drunk while discussing tWoT. The recording is done on my Mac and edited there too. We use a pretty common host site called Libsyn. A lot of the bigger name podcasts use it as well; it helps us keep track of download numbers and all kinds of other demographic statistics as well as being relatively easy to use. After it's posted, iTunes scans our site and pulls the newest show and adds it to their library at whatever pace they deem necessary.
Jono-Yeah, Tom divides the book into parts. Then we read. Joe and I make notes, Tom looks at us confusedly. We get together, have a couple drinks, then go into the hi-tech studio. From there we just riff off us each other and BS along til it's over. Over the course of the show, Joe and Tom smoke while I keep drinking. It’s all very professional. We do commercials and the very popular Ask the Dark One afterwards while really drunk. It shows. Like Joe said and everyone complains about: it takes between 2 hours and a week for iTunes to put the show up. I have no idea why, but it’s ridiculously annoying.
Q: What's it like meeting people who listen to the show and are fans of the show?
Tom- Awesome and surreal. We're baffled that anyone listens anyway. But I try to stay humble about our immense fame and popularity, so that's all I'll say about how great everyone thinks we are. Knows we are. I mean, we've always known we were amazing, but it's nice to get validation. Not that we need it.
Joe- We definitely started out with the mindset of "let's do this for ourselves" so it's always a little mind blowing when someone asks "are you from tWoTcast?". Lauren and I recently went to LibertyCon and we showed up a little late Friday, and when JordanCon goers realized we were there amongst the room parties, a lot of drunken cheers of "There’s a tWoT in the hallway!" happened. That made me proud.
Jono- It is completely confusing. In fact, I'm answering an interview right now and am kind of confused as to why. Like we've said: this was something thought up just because it would be funny. We assumed we'd get like 20 listeners and it would fade away in a few months. Maybe it will still? I think the first “whoa…we have fans?!” moment was when iTunes didn’t upload our podcast and we got tweets and emails asking about the delay. It was like we had done something wrong. I think we’ve actually posted the podcast late like maybe half a dozen times in nearly 18 months (which is all Joe’s fault!), but this was one of many times that iTunes screwed us over. It was strange…Meeting fans at JordanCon or Dragon*Con is ridiculous. I’m literally just some tool with a microphone and no internal filter. This is beyond bizarre, really. And it’s awesome. tWoT community in general is awesome. No one's really a [jerk] or anything (except us), so there's no one saying your show sucks or whatever. Because, you know, it doesn't. But still, every piece of email we get or iTunes reviews or Twitter interaction is just really cool. We love it!
Q: Is there anything you'd like to share with the people of Dragonmount?
Tom- um. No?
Joe- Shameless plug time? Just listen to the show and that we love the feedback we get. We're pretty responsive on Twitter but listeners can always email us too. Oh! and if you're coming to Dragon*Con definitely come to the LIVE show recording and say hi. Those are always fun.
Jono- I would love to share my life story with them as I am a fascinating character whose experiences are rivaled by no one. Also, I used to love reading Robert Jordan's blog there before he died. Also, I have real issues with Dragonmount's upper management as Jennifer Liang and Jason Denzel are shady characters.
Spoilers start here.
Q: Which book was your favorite, and why?
Tom- Shadow Rising. Love the Perrin story, love the Aiel. Fires of Heaven is a close second.
Joe- Winter's Heart. Rand just becomes this true hardass here and slightly before he starts really going off the deep end. Rand and Lan batmaning across the rooftops of Far Madding is just perfect. Anyway, I could make a horrible Jono-esque joke here about taints and cleansing and I won’t but the climax is awesome. Showdown at Shadar Logoth. Particularly Alivia glassing over that hilltop with Dashiva on it.
Jono- Book one. It's amazing. It's radically different from the rest of the series to a large degree, but the beginning is all there. The prophecies from Min, the seeds of what each ta'veren will be. Plus, Emond's Field feels amazing. There's something about Rand entering with Tam that feels so damn awesome. I don't know...Second is Winter's Heart: It’s not my fault about taint cleansing being so funny. And integral to the book, Joe…Rand killing Kisman like a hardass. Mat's escape from Ebou Dar. Really, it’s an awesome book. I recommend you read it.
Joe- Why did you both list two books? He clearly asked us for one favorite.
Jono- Because I’m an overachiever, Joe. Get off my case…And also because I’m dumb...
Q: Which book was your least favorite, and why?
Tom- Ten. Ugh. You know why.
Joe- The Path of Daggers. Amazing installment but a tWoT book without Matrim Cauthon might as well not exist.
Jono- This is fairly obvious, unless you’re Joe and deliberately don’t answer the question...Crossroads of Twilight. Did anything happen in that book? It's not a bad book at all obviously, but...nothing happens. In a reread it's quite interesting, but when that book came out and then you go back in time with a bunch of characters? That was obnoxious...
Joe- No, seriously, I liked Crossroads. But I also loved Majora's Mask so...
Q: What was the most memorable scene for each of you in the books? Why?
Tom- Anything that actually gets me in a raw emotional way. Perrin meeting his cousin in The Shadow Rising. Nynaeve getting the Malkieri to follow Lan. Semirhage forcing Rand to attack Min. Those are big.
Joe- We're all really big fans of Min, so Rand's hand on her throat almost made me have a Neverending Story book throwing tantrum. Instead I read faster than I ever had to make sure she lived. I do love pretty much any scene of Mat actually leading a battle; there’s a few in Knife of Dreams towards the end. Just awesome.
Jono- Rand cutting the Black Cords in Eye of the World. The entire chapter of "The Grave is No Bar to My Call" in The Great Hunt sent literal shivers up my spine. Mat sneaking into the Stone in The Dragon Reborn. Perrin in the Two Rivers or Rand wrestling Asmodean for the Choedan Kal (cue Tom laughing) in book four. Couladin's head on a stick or that huge balefire Rand throws at Rahvin while Nyneave is burning him always sticks out from Fires of Heaven. Rand escaping the wagons and everything blowing up at the end of Lord of Chaos? Maybe the best single scene in the series. Min and Rand naked; that's why my old hardback was worn down for Crown of Swords. Wait... Rand nearly killing himself with Callandor or Elayne and Nynaeve and Aviendha using the Bowl of Winds takes the cake in Path of Daggers. Mat leaving Ebou Dar and the huge ball of taint over Shadar Logoth is amazing in Winter’s Heart. Crossroads of Twilight...? Reading the last scene from Winter's Heart from other characters' POV...Knife of Dreams has Mat. Prince of Ravens. Oh, and Rand handless. The Gathering Storm: Rand's hands on Min or when he's on Dragonmount. Or Egwene kicking ass at the Tower. For Towers of Midnight it has to be Mat and Company in the Tower of Ghenjei. A Memory of Light has some awesome scenes, but I can’t go into it. There’s a bunch of nudity, though.
[Editor's note: Jono, Joe, and Tom will be doing a live podcast at Dragon*Con, so be sure to drop by and heckle them. The live tWoTcast will occur this Saturday, September 1st, at 8:30 p.m. in our Wheel of Time track room. The track room will be in Roswell 1-2 at the Westin hotel.]