Thus Spake The Creator

How did the series start out?

Quote from RJ: The first inspiration was the thought of what it was really like to be tapped as the savior of mankind. In a lot of books that have somebody who is the "chosen one" if you will, it seems that the world quickly divides into allies who are strongly behind the "chosen one" and the evil guys. It seemed to me that if somebody is chosen to be the savior, there is going to be a good bit of resistance, both "Let this cup pass from me," and a lot of people who aren't going to be that happy to have a savior show up, even if they are on his side nominally. That established, I began to think about the world.
What I'm trying to do here is rather complex. The usual thing is to either tell a sweeping story that is, in effect, the history of a nation or a people, or to tell a tighter story that is very much inside the heads of individuals themselves. I am trying to do the stories of individual people, a large number of them, at the same time as I tell the story of a world. I want to give readers an entire picture of this world-not just its current history and situation, but its past as well. That's hard to do at the same time we're so deeply involved with individual characters. The complexity of that combination is one of the reasons the darn thing has gone on as long as it has.

Q: Hi.I Love your books and I was just wondering where you got your ideas for the series. its like nothing ever published before! 
A: It all started with wondering what it was really like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you are the savior of mankind. Ten years of thinking about that, and I began writing. 

Q: What was your inspiration for this series? Anything specific? 
A: For First Cause: I suppose the question of what it would really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told that you were born to be the savior of mankind. Beyond that, two or three hundred things. 

Q: What was the primary driving force behind your world building (other than making lots of money)? 
A: The driving force was creating a world populated by cultures that seemed real, but alien-- alien as in other. 

Q: When did you first develop the idea for WOT? How long have you been working on it before it was accepted by a publisher?
A: The very first notion came to me nearly twenty years ago; I spent ten or twelve years mulling it over, told my then-publisher about it, and he offered me a contract.

Q: I'm sorry. How long after publishing The Eye of the World did you recognize the extent of the popularity of your book, and did you know at that time that the "World" would grow to such a great proportion (i.e., that you'd have written this many books)? 
A: I never expected anything like this, and I really don't know how long it took me to realize that the books were very popular. It rather crept up on me.

Q: Did you think you were going to write only the first book without sequels? If you wife is all the female characters are you all the male ones? 
A: No, I knew from the start that I was writing something that would be multiple books. I just never knew how many, exactly. The last question: Probably, God help me. Never thought of it that way, though.

Q: How difficult is it to get a major publisher like TOR to publish a novel, Mr. Jordan? 
A: I forgot who asked this, but it wasn't difficult to get Tor to publish my first novel. Tom Doherty liked what I write. I've been writing for 20 years and I told him that I had an idea for a multi-volume book  I didn't know how many books and probably any other publishers would have thrown me out of his office but Tom said OK! 

Q: You are an inspiration among fantasy writers. I am wondering how you started on this massive undertaking? 
A: Well, I wrote! I had some ideas and I wrote them! I don't know how else to say it. 

Q: With the scope of this work, it must have been on your mind for a long time. When did you first concieve the story and how many years after that was the first book published? 
A: I had the first notions for this book, I guess it was 1975 or 76. For these books I should say but there were a lot of things to think out, a lot of changes I went through for instance the character of Rand and Tam were originally one. I spent about ten years noodling the story around in the back of my head before I ever put words on paper but that's rather typical for me. My books have a fairly long gestation period. 

Q: How long did it take you to plan the Wheel of Time world? 
A: A very long time. Almost ten years of thinking about it before I began writing. And then four years to write "The Eye of the World." Then roughly 14 months each for the next five books, and about 20 or 21 months for "A Crown of Swords." You see, I have the world planned out, but quite often details are a work in progress. 

Q: Mr. Jordan, I'm a dedicated fan of your series who's bought all of the books in hardback, and first I'd like to thank you for bringing such a wonderful world to life for us. It seems to me that your work is something relatively new in fantasy -- you're exploring a situation where there is no known quest or goal to be fulfilled in order for victory to be assured. Instead it seems more like the real world: uncertain, with the heroes fighting a war without knowledge of the "victory conditions." Would you care to comment?
A: I wanted to write a fantasy that reflected the real world, with characters who reflected real people -- not specific people, but characters who were real people. And there are things about the real world that I wanted, such as that people who end up heroes very rarely set out to be heroes, and heroic journeys consist mainly of sleeping rough and going hungry, wondering how you are going to pay for the next meal and wonder exactly what it is you are supposed to do and how are you going to get out of it alive.

Q: When you first started writing the Wheel of Time, did you have a set plan for the whole series, or were there some things you just thought up as you stumbled upon them in your writing?
A: I knew the beginning, that is, the opening scenes; I knew the final scene of the final book; I knew the very general line that I wanted the story to take from the beginning to the end. And I knew a number of major occurrences that I wanted to take place and a number of relationships that I wanted to develop. I left open how I would get from one major occurrence to the next to allow for fluidity in writing. I did not want to set anything in stone. Sorry for the pun, but that does lead to rigidity.

Q: 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? 
A: I 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.

Q: 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? 
A: I 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: Do you remember when you conceived _The Wheel of Time_ series? 
A: The first thought that came to me was what would it be like, what would it really be like, to be tapped on the shoulder and told you were born to be the saviour of mankind. And I then very quickly thought, what would happen if the saviour of mankind really showed up and he was really there to save the world from impending doom, what would the real response of the world be? And after ten or twelve years of knocking around in my head, because I always give my books a long lead time, that turned into _The Wheel of Time_.

Q: To the books then. The Wheel of Time is a fantasy series epic in size and scale. How did it all begin - and what was your inspiration for it?
A: It's really hard to say. There's all sorts of things that come about before you start writing a series. You don't have "an idea" that becomes a short story, or a book. A short story is maybe hundreds of ideas that have come together, a novel is thousands of ideas that have come together. But The Wheel of Time - I was thinking at one point about what it'd really be like to be tapped on the shoulder and told "You were born to be the saviour of mankind. And oh yes - you're probably going to die in the end and no, you can't resign - it's your job, you're stuck with it". 
Then I had been thinking about the source of myths, the source of legends. About whether some of them might not have been personifications of natural events, the way we say some of them are supposed to be. What if some of them were things that people had done, and had simply been told and told until it became a myth and legend?
At the same time, I was thinking about the degradation of information over distance. The further you are from an event in either space or time, the less reliable your knowledge of the event. Information inevitably degrades over distance, whether it's spatial or temporal.
I was thinking about lots of other things too, and it began to coalesce. It was the beginnings of what would become the Wheel of Time. I let it mull over for four or five years, then I thought I was ready to sit down and write. But it took four years to write the Wheel of Time because I discovered there were a lot of other things I had to think and sort out.

Q: Was the storyline for "New Spring" one that was created at the same time as the rest of the WoT plot, or did you come up with it specifically for the Legends anthology?
A: The basis was notes that I had made for myself on backstory, things that I had never intended to put into the books themselves, but that I needed to know to write the books: such as where did Moridian and Lan meet, and where did they come from.

Q: First off, I absolutely love the WOT series! What I wanted to know was when your originally started writing this series what type of research, if any, did you do to create the world and storyline you have created?
A: I started writing the Eye of the World in about 1985, I guess it was. 85 or 86. It took me four years, and I had been thinking about the things that would lead into the world of the wheel of Time about ten years before I started writing ANYTHING.

Q: How did you develop the idea for the Wheel of Time saga, and where did you get the name?
A: The name comes out of Hindu mythology, where there is a belief that time is a wheel. Many older cultures believe that time is cyclic, that it repeats. In fact, I believe the best thing the ancient Greeks gave us was (the idea) that time was linear and change was possible.

Q: who was the first character you came up with when you were going to write the wheeloftime was it Rand?
A: i can' t really say who the first character was that i came up with. i was thinking of a number of types of people and how they would work together. and they coalesced into certain characters.
Q: And all the rest of the story develooped while you wrote it? Wow Amazing and what an imagination! Hmm I think Im jealous
A: it was really only the details that have developed as i write the story. The major part of it was there in my head before I began writing TEOTW.

Q: maybe this is a stupid question too: but you told us that when you had your first thoughts about wheel of time tham and rand altor where the same person. Now i have a question about nynaeve. when you first thought about her was she the same person as she is now (did you already thought about her tugging het braid???)
A: nynaeve in the beginning was actually going to be the loveinterest for rand'tam but she was the same kind of woman - quickly temperamental and not suffering fools gladly.

Q: how come the first character you came up with isnt a 30 yr old rand anymore? when did this change?
A: the 1st char I came up was not a 30 yr old rand, it was that the 1st version of rand was a 30 yr old man. I changed that because i wanted the character of rand to find everything beyond his village to be strange and new.

Reports from signings

The reason RJ chose to write fantasy was its opportunities to build cultures and experiment with them, in a way and with a freedom to comment that is unacheivable with a "realistic", domestically based world. The story of TWoT evolved during a very long period, in part beginning in the middle of the seventies with the idea of the Breaking of the World, before he found the "final scene in the final book" and began to actually write TEotW.

Jordan says that the idea for WoT came to him about 10 years before he began writing. "What would it feel like to be tapped on the shoulder and told, 'Hey, you're the savior of the world?'" He began writing The Eye of the World four years before it was published (and I say that it shows).

Rand and Tam al’Thor originally started out as one character.
He is a man in his 30s from Emond’s Field in the present.
(Earlier, when his story ‘starts’) There isn’t much for a kid from a small village out wherever to do that does not involve backbreaking work. At about 15, he runs away to become a soldier (yes, a field that does involve backbreaking labor). After 20 years or so as a soldier, Rand/Tam wants to go home, but when he does, he realizes he’s no longer the boy that left that little village. “And prophecy is on his heels”. Maybe something of the sort will be done in a future series.

He also talked about how the early stages of the story evolved, about Rand starting out as Tam, coming back to Emond's Field (although it wasn't Emond's Field yet back then) after 20 years, realizing he'd outgrown it. And then prophecy tapping him on shoulder with the message that he was fated to save the world, and oh yeah, he'd die in the process. He went for Rand instead, because he wanted an innocent character, a character who could realize how little he knew, and thus could grow a lot more.

Talking about why the Tam/Rand main character becamse just Rand.
A: ...see this world for the first time, so that at the same time as the reader is seeing something for the first time, so are these people from this small town.

Raina's Hold / Thus Spake the Creator - Index