||Thus Spake The Creator
many books will there be? Can't he write them any faster?
Does he know the end yet?
Q: Hello, just to say I LOVE your books, I was
wondering how long you will continue the saga because I
read in the prologue of the first book that the battle
lasted about ten years? And it's only been about two up
to the 6th book.
A: It will last several more books, until I reach the
last scene, which has been in my head since the very
Q: Not that I'm complaining, but could you write the
books faster? I'm dying here.
A: No, I can't write the bloody things any faster, and if
I find out where you live, I will send my friends Little
Guido and Harry the Nail around to talk to you.
Q: We're glad to have you here! I've got lots and lots
of questions, and I'd like to ask you to briefly tell us
about Wheel of Time before we get started. :)
A: It can't be done! Not briefly. This is Loial's country.
:) I can't even do it in two or three pages. My advice is
to read the books. :) And start with THE EYE OF THE
WORLD, please. :) It works much better that way.
Q: How much longer do you anticipate the series will
go on? I have heard 10, but is anything definite yet?
A: It will be at least 10 books, yes. There will be some
more books, not too many, and please God, not so many as
I've already written. I am, in truth, writing as fast as
I can. I want to maintain the pace of the story until I
reach the final scene, which has been in my head since
before I started writing THE EYE OF THE WORLD.
Q: Mr. Jordan. were you rushed by publisher deadlines?
A: In a way. Not with the last book, certainly but THE
EYE OF THE WORLD took 4 years to write. Each of the other
books took 13 or 14 months but the publisher brought out
the second book 10 months after the first and the
following books at 12-month intervals. You can see
there's a law of diminishing returns there. For this last
book, I simply told them I could not do it again. A CROWN
OF SWORDS took about 20 months to write, in fact. That's
why the book didn't come out last fall or earlier in the
Q: what did you think about those folks arguing
with you about YOUR characters?
A: Well, I'm sort of used to it. It's been going on for a
long time now.
Q: Do you realize what you are putting us through with
the time between books?
A: You guys get to sit around with your feet up between
books! :) I bust my hump writing them.
Q: First, I'd like to thank you for such a great
series. The Wheel of Time is probably the best I've read...
My Question: Do you know roughly what will happen between
now (Book 7) and the last scene of the last book, or are
you making it up as you go along?
A: Yes and no. I know the last scene of the last book. I
know the major events I want to happen between now and
then. I know who will be alive and who will be dead at
the end of the series. I know the situation of the world
I know all of those things, but I leave how to get from
one point to the next free so that I can achieve some
fluidity. I don't want it too rigid, which is what I
think will happen if i plan in too great a detail.
Mr. Jordan, I first wanted to say thank you for such a
great series. My question is how long has this story and
or series been running around in your head, and do you
feel you have the ending picked out?
started thinking about what would turn into the Wheel of
Time more than 15 years ago, and the first thing that I
thought of that was really solid was the last scene of
the last book. I could have written that 15 years ago,
and if I had, it would differ from what I would write
today only in the words. What happens would be exactly
the same. So, I've known where I'm going from the start.
How far in advance did you plan the later novels like
LORD OF CHAOS and A CROWN OF SWORDS? Did you know the
series would be this long when you started?
did not know the series would be this long in the
beginning. When I first went to my publisher, I told him,
I know the beginning, and I know the ending, and I know
what I want to happen in-between, but I'm not sure I know
how long it will take me to get from the beginning to the
end. Now, don't laugh, but I said to him, "It's
going to be at least three or four books, and it might be
as many as five or six."
Q: You've said before that you know where this series
is going to end.
A: I've known the last scene of the last book for 15
years. I could have written it easily 15 years ago, and
it would be only changes in the wording, not in what
happens, from that to now.
Q: So will the male-female duality be resolved? Or is
this a "read and find-out" question?
A: Read and find out. What I consider the major story
lines will be resolved. There will be a number of minor
story lines that will not be resolved, for the simple
reason that there is no point to any real world where
everything is resolved. That's always something that has
irritated me about some novels--that you reach a point at
the end of the book, and everyone's problems have now
been solved, and all of the world's problems have been
solved. I get the feeling I could put these characters
and this world on a shelf and put a bell jar over them
and go away. There's nothing left there alive.
That's the way it's going to be. I even intend to set a
small hook in the last scene.
Comment: Wow... you're going to drive people crazy!
A: I know, I know. I've been thinking about getting some
of those Groucho glasses with the mustache.
Comment: Meanwhile Jordan continues to work on the
next volume of _The Wheel of Time_ series with no idea
when he'll finally wrap the whole thing up.
A: I know where I'm going.
Q: You do?
A: I know where I'm going. I know the last scene of the
last book. I could write it now. I could have written it
before I started this series. I know how all of the major
story lines are going to resolve. I just have to get
there. And I'm not sure how many books it's going to take.
There are going to be several more books. There are going
to be some more books. There are going to be a few more
books. But not too many.
Comment: No telling how many volumes _The Wheel of Time_
will eventually get. But with Robert Jordan as the
author, you can bet that we're in for some very
''I've known the last scene of the last 'Wheel' book
since before I started writing the first book, and that's
unchanged. I thought 'The Wheel of Time' was going to be
five or six books. I didn't think they'd be this long. I
was doing this like a historical novel, but I had more
things to explain, things not readily apparent. In a
normal historical novel, you can simply let some things
go by because the reader of historical fiction knows
these, or has the concept of them. But this is not the
medieval period, not a fantasy with knights in shining
armor. If you want to imagine what the period is, imagine
it as the late 17th century without gunpowder. I had to
do more explaining about cultural details, and that meant
things got bigger than I had intended."
Q: Do you already know the fates of all the primary
characters or are they still changeable?
A: I know the fates of all of the primary characters.
Q: Mr. Jordan, How much of the story is already
planned out in your mind, and how much is supplied as you
go along in the writing process?
A: I know the major outline of the story. Various
characters lives, who lives and dies, the fates of
nations and I know the final scene. Minor details, or
smaller details I leave until I'm writing. It flows
organically that way
I thought it would take five books, by the way. I was
Q: Why does it take you about a year to two years to
issue the next book?
A: Because it takes that long to write it. The
earlier books also took a long time, but what was
happening there was that the usual space between handing
in the manuscript and the book being published, was
shrinking in my case. Normally that is nine months to a
year. For my last four books, however it has been two
months from me handing in the manuscript to me being on
Q: How long did it take you to formulate the Wheel of
Time series before you started the first book? Had you
had this ruminating in your mind?
A: Extending back to the first clear thought I had that I
can say led into the Wheel of Time was maybe 10 years
before I began writing. I'm not saying I knew 10 years
before I began writing what it was going to be, or that I
was actually on to something that would become the Wheel
I thought I had a story set in my head, a set of stories,
fixed. And when I began writing the Wheel of Time --
"The Eye of the World" in particular -- I
realized I didn't have as much of it as clear as I
thought I did. There were things that I needed to work on.
So "The Eye of the World" took me four years to
write. I guess you could say, in a way, it was about 14
years of development to get the thing set.
Q: Did you ever think it was going to turn into this epic
A: No. The story is the same story that I set out to tell.
I knew before I began writing what the story was. There
were details of how it worked that I didn't have fixed
that I thought I knew and suddenly realized I didn't.
But, I knew the beginning and the end and the things that
I wanted to happen in the middle. I literally could have
written the last scene of the last book before I began
writing "The Eye of the World". The problem has
Q: In what way?
A: Well, when I went to the publisher with this at Tor
Books and I said, "Look, this isn't a trilogy that
I'm talking about. It's going to be four or maybe five
books." I said. "It could be six. I don't think
so, but it could be." And I really believed that.
But the over-optimism has been, "How much of the
story can I get into one book?"
With every book I start out thinking I can get more of
the story into this book than I actually turn out to be
able to. I suddenly realize that I have to stop here or
I'm going to have to write another thousand pages to
really make it fit together. Or I realize that I'm going
to have to take some things and do them later or I'm
going to write a 2,000-page hardback, which they really
would have to sell to people with a shoulder strap.
Q: I've heard that you're going to have 13 books in the
series. Is that true?
A: I've heard that myself. I just put out the ninth book,
"Winter's Heart." And as I tell people, there
are going to be at least three more books. Now, I say,
"at least." I cannot see how to finish it in
fewer than three, how to get to that final scene. If I
can do it in three more, I will, but I'm not promising. I
apologize to people about that. I'm really sorry. I never
set out to write a mega-epic as far as the number of
Q: Why would you possibly apologize? Obviously people
A: Well, yes, I know but . . . I still love writing it as
much as when I started. But in a way I also feel
impatience with myself. Until I complete the Wheel of
Time I haven't really done it, if you understand what I
mean. It's like a football player takes the kickoff on
the one and then runs to the opposing team's 20. Well, he
didn't get the touchdown. If he stops there he hasn't
finished it. You have to cross the goal line. And until I
finish it I haven't crossed the goal line.
There are a number of storylines that I
want to tell, a number of stories that I want to tell.
Basically I think of this as a story of people surviving
the upheaval of their culture. ... You know, when I began
I knew the beginning, I knew the end and I knew certain
major events that I wanted to happen in between, so that
I would arrive at the proper conclusion, the conclusion
of the story that I wanted to arrive at. And it simply
wasn't possible to get everything in there as quickly as
I thought. The people must all undergo changes. The
cultures must undergo changes.
Q: Could it be possible that it will never end?
Uhm, no, there is no possibility that it will never end.
I will wrap up all of the major storylines, I will wrap
up some of the minor storylines, other minor storylines
will be left hanging, and I'm going to do worse than that.
I am going to set a hook in the last scene of the last
book, that will make some people don't believe what I
say, think that I am setting up a sequel. What I am
doing, what I will be doing, is trying to leave you with
a view of a world that is still alive. One hope that some
fantasies have is that when you reach the end of the
book, or you reach the end of the trilogy, all the
characters' problems are solved. All of the things that
they have been doing are neatly tied of in a bow, all of
their world's problems have been solved. And there's no
juice left, there's no life left. you think 'I ought to
set this world on a shelf and put a bell-jar on top of
it, to keep the dust off.
When I finish the Wheel of Time, I want to do it in such
a way that you will think it's still out there somewhere,
people still doing things. This story has been concluded,
this set of stories has been concluded, but they're still
Q: Was WH originally intended to be longer?
A: winters heart was originally intended to be longer yes
but every book was intended to be longer when i started.
i have always been overly optimistic about how much of
the story i can put into any one book. remember in the
beginning i thought it was onlygoing to be 4-5 books
maybe 6 at the most.
Reports from signings
There will be a few more books, some, not a lot,
hopefully fewer than seven more. He knows the final scene
of the last book, all the major events he wants to have
happen and who will live and who will die. When he starts
a book, he decides which of these events he wants to try
to do and then writes it so they happen. He will tie up
all the major plot lines, but will leave a lot of the
minor ones unresolved. He finds it too unrealistic for a
series to end with all of life's problems solved. Expect
the series to end with the major problems solved, but a
lot of people will still have tumultuous lives ahead of
With the final scene in the final book (which he
eloquently said did not have to be identical with Tarman
Gai'don), all _major_ plotlines will be resolved, and
most minor ones. Some minor plotlines would still be
unresolved, as a way to let the world continue to live
and breathe. The surviving characters would still have
lives to go on with, even if more "boring" ones.
The length of the series: He's given up guessing how
long it will be. He knows the final scene, and he knows
how all the plot elements will work out: who will be
married, who will be dead, what plot elements will be
left unresolved. (Subtext: somebody will get married,
somebody will get killed.)
o 4 years to write Eye of the World; the next 5 took 14-16
o aCoS took 22-23 months to write.
o The Guide to the Wheel of Time took 5-6 months; there
was a lot of work he had to do on it that he didn't
expect to need to do. I think he expected a few weeks of
work from him directly, with it mostly being done by
o New Spring took 2-3 months
Path of Daggers could have been longer, but he had to
take out events he had intended to include because
including them would have required another month of
Randland time, and that would have made the book "twice
He went on to repeat what he has said before--knowing
the end, knowing all the major events, yadda yadda.
However, what he did said that was new (at least for me)
was that the _order_ of events was _not_ set, and that he
allowed some fluidity for them. He made a remark
about a cousin of his (who is an engineer) who came over
and saw all the notes and work and asked why RJ hadn't
created something called "critical flow charts"
or some such. RJ replied that the nature of the
story was too complex for such linear breakdown.
Around the same time something was asked about him
knowing the final scene (or maybe that was even earlier),
because Rowling [the Harry Potter author; at least, I
think it was her that was mentioned here] had already
written the final sentence of her work. Jordan came with
the usual story about him knowing the scene since before
starting the series. He doesn't have it written down
anywhere. Harriet already knows the final scene, she's
very good at getting things out of him (at least, that's
what I think I recall), but no one else... And then later
he said absolutely nobody knew it besides him.
He was talking about the ending again, and that nobody
knows it except for him. But this time he once again said
that not even Harriet knows it. If it wasn't for the fact
that others also had heard him say last Wednesday that
Harriet did know the ending I'd really be doubting myself
Raina's Hold / Thus Spake The Creator - Index