Reporting in from blustery Toronto, Canada, where a great time was had by all.
We were down by one Memory Keeper, as Paul unfortunately had to cancel last minute. However, the six remaining ones -- Rebecca, our "First Among Equals", Karen, Lisa, Praan, Alex and Alex (just to be confusing, I'm sure) were overjoyed to be able to take part and to have this opportunity. Doors to the signing at the Lillian H. Smith Library (home to The Merril Collection) opened up just after 6:00, with a fairly sizeable group of fans already waiting in line. We started the evening off with games such as trivia, word searches and crosswords until Brandon arrived and took the floor.
Brandon was his usual personable self, answering questions about the experience of finishing the Wheel of Time, the story and its world themselves, and his writing habits and experiences with equal aplomb. He closed his remarks by reading the iconic opening to each book, our last opportunity to hear those words in a new permutation. The crowd, needless to say, was most appreciative.
Most of the questions during the Q&A centred on the writing process in one way or another, either of these last three Wheel of Time books or of his other works. I had never before had a grasp on the sheer size of what Mr. Jordan had thought about and committed to (digital) paper about this series, all the details that will probably never see the light of day, until Brandon commented that his attempt to put Jordan’s massive document onto his own computer resulted in it crashing after 32,000 pages. If we ever need a metric to relate how real the world Jordan created was, that is as good as it gets.
Brandon also shared the funny and idiosyncratic way Mr. Jordan would get his inspiration for names; it wasn’t all just Norse and Hindu myth all the time, but apparently also everyday objects -- streets in his home town (Ogier Street!), his washing machine, and random strolls through the phone book. If you’ve lived in Charleston in the past 23 years, who knows,you may have made an appearance as an Andoran Noble or the Old Tongue name for an Aiel warrior society!
Also of interest to WoT fans and aspiring writers, both: one fan asked, given the lack of majorly epic-scale battles in Brandon’s other work, how he approached the near endless warfare that makes up the bulk of A Memory of Light. The answer: research, research, research, and lots of help from experts. Brandon asserts (and I can believe) that he can get himself to about 80% expert on just about any topic in the course of writing prep, but his lack of personal experience with warfare (reminding us of Mr. Jordan’s service in Vietnam) put him at a disadvantage in accurately conveying what needed to be conveyed in the last battle. Military buffs and armchair historians came to the rescue (including Team Jordan member Alan Romanczuk), outlining a series of strategies and tactics based on real-world battles that Brandon used as a guide. However, Tarmon Gai’don being on a somewhat different scale than we’re used to in our Age, both metrically and dramatically, there was a lot of back-and-forth between Brandon and the battle guys about amping up the drama without sacrificing realism--inserting twists and character moments to make us cheer or weep.
Aside from basking in Brandon’s considerable wit and wisdom, the fans who came out to the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library last night just had a lot of fun. We Memory Keepers tried to keep the crowd happy with a trivia contest (using the same trivia as the Seattle signing), wherein a certain charming gambler claimed a downright impressive proportion of the raffle ticket rewards--as did his Aes Sedai companion in the purple shawl. (What does your ajah do? Must be a Fourth Age thing.) Word searches and trivia continued to help pass the time whilst waiting in line.
We also presided over a rip-roaring game of Wheel of Time-themed pictionary; some fans looked at our set-up askance at first, but once a few people took the plunge (including the aforementioned gambler and Aes Sedai), a hard core of dedicated players went on guessing for hours--with such clues as (mildly spoilerific, maybe) “Aviendha’s feet,” “Narg,” “a knack” (no one wanted to tackle that one...), and “Illianer beard”--even after we had run out of prizes. This game is highly recommended at your next Call to a Sitting or Great Stump.
Overall, the mood of the event was just happy. Happy to have a complete story, happy to have an open and engaging author, happy to be part of such a friendly and awesome fandom--and happy to have rode of the wind’s of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.
The Memory Keepers would like to extend their thanks to Dragonmount.com, Bakka-Phoenix Books, Brandon Sanderson and Lillian H. Smith Library for allowing us to take part in this wonderful event.
Wheel of Time Wordsearch:
Some of the trivia: