Thus Spake The Creator

Sources and Influences

Q: I have noticed some similarities to The Lord of the Rings. Was Tolkien an inspiration for for you?
A: I suppose to the degree that he inspires any fantasy writer in the English language, certainly.

Q: I enjoy the many nations and peoples in the Wheel of Time an how richly their societies are detailed! What was your inspiration for the Ogier? 
A: It's really impossible to say here. The Ogier came from a dozen different sources, at least. 

Q: could you discuss your imagery as it relates to book of Revelation--and other sources-language use? 
A: Sorry, not in under four or five hours.

Q: where did you get the concept for Perrin? 
A: Out of my head. 

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: I lived in Chas during Hugo--has that influenced you or the story in any way? 
A: I don't think your presence influenced me at all! As for the storm, it didn't influence me either, except that I have noticed sometimes, when the wind gets high, I climb up on the roof for no particular reason. 

Q: Are your Arthurian legend parallels intended or were they written in and only realized afterwards? 
A: They were intended. 

Q: You've lived in Charleston all your life. Is there anything here that's affected your novels?
A: Trying to call them "palmetto bugs" so as not to terrify the tourists has nearly driven me batty. That's about it. 

Q: From what sources did you develop the concept of Wolf Brothers and the "powers" Perrin has developed in the series? 
A: Any number of myths from Europe, North American Indians, and the Australian aborigines. 

Q: Did you intend to have an extreme tone of Arthurian/biblical references? 
A: Do I have an extreme tone of same? I thought it was a mild tone of same. 

Q: Am I seeing things that aren't there, or are there several references to the Arthurian Legends in the Wheel of Time? 
A: Yes, there are. Among many others. The Arthurian legend is the most recognizable in the United States. The others are much less so and you don't pick them out as easily. 

Q: Does living in such an old and unique house aid you in coming up with ideas? 
A: No. 

Q: Are any of your charachters based on anyone you know? 
A: All of the women are based on my wife.

Q: Are your books based on any biblical themes/characters?
A: Not directly. Influenced by. And not wholly -- there are other influences as well.

Q: is the Hawking era and or the Seanchan based on any actual historical era and do you plan on including some more historical data about the age of legends and maybe a separate serieas?
A: The first part of your question: no. It's based on several combined. The second part: Only insofar as it affects the story in the "here and now." In a separate series: no.

Q: Hello all + Mr. Jordan. I am a big WOT fan and I am amazed by some of the themes, i.e. struggle between men and women. Mr. Jordan truly sheds some light on diferences between men and women. There also seem to be some allusions to Native Americans, weaves of fire, air, etc. The politicing and warring of the Games of Houses and battle scenes are told with the clarity of someone who has military experience. Can you briefly state what from your background makes WOT so realistic? 
A: Forty-odd years of life. "Briefly?" It's what it boils down to.

Q: There is a big influence (already mentioned) from wide ranging source materials. This is a great deal of fun, tracking down all of the various sources whilst reading. Is there a reason that the Arthur and other Avalon legends are refered to so much. Gawyn, Morgase, et.al. 
A: They really aren't referred to any more than many other legends and myths, but they're simply more recognizable to most Americans.

Q: Firstly, I'd like to thank you for my mother's autographed The Fires of Heaven, 10/150 and also, what inspires your deft writing? 
A: Everything!
Q: Specifically? 
A: Everything specifically!

Q: Hi Mr. Jordan & everyone I was wondering about Artur hawkwing I notice parallels to the King Arthur legends in particular... But what other stories inspired this? 
A: Too many to go into -- truly too many. 

Q: Is stones based on GO, the Asian game of skill? It is more complex than chess... so it is appropriate if so. And what stones are used (type of stone)? 
A: Stones is based on Go, and the actual stones used can vary. 

Q: First off, I'd like to say thanks Mr. jordan for providing my family and I countless hours of reading enjoyment, and I'd like to ask you something about the Aiel, well, who are they? 
A: You're welcome. And they are the descendants of the pacifists who were in service to the Aes Sedai  in the Age of Legend. If on the other hand, you mean the source of the culture in my mind, they contain some elements of the Apache, some of the Zulu, some of the Bedouin, and some elements of my own including that I rather liked the fact of making the desert dwellers blue-eyed and fair instead of the usual dark-eyed, dark-complected desert people.

Q: I noticed that your other pen name is Sean O'Neal. Did you draw Matt's "Band of the Red Hand" from family stories?
A: No. That came from my mind twisting certain mythologies that I had read, certain legends. 

Q: Mr. Jordan. I love your series, it is intricate and interesting. My favorite character (other than Rand) is Matt. People have speculated that Odin was the outline for this character. I see Chukullen (misspelled). Could you eleborate?
A: There are a number of characters reflected, mythological characters, reflected in each of the books because of the basic theme, if you will, of the books, that information becomes distorted over distance or time... you cannot know the truth of an event the further you get from it. These people are supposed to be the source of a great many of our legends or myths, but what they actually did bears little resemblance to the myth. that is the conceit, that time has shifted these actions to other people, perhaps compressing two people into one or dividing one into three as far as their actions go so Rand has bits of Arthur and bits of Thor and bits of other characters and so does Matt and so does Nynaeve, and so do others. And yes Matt does have some bits of Odin, but not exclusively. He has bits of Loki and bits of Coyote and of the Monkey King. 

Q: I am an avid reader of author Ayn Rand. A hero in her novel The Fountainhead matches _Rand_'s physical description exactly. Coincidence?
A: Coincidence--I'm afraid I haven't read Ayn Rand since college.

Q: Have you ever put your own personality in one of your characters, or do you liken yourself to one of your characters?
A: Well, I expect there's a bit of me in all of the male characters. My secretary thinks that I am Matt. My wife thinks I'm Loilal. Other people have said they detected me in other characters, but I think it's just a bit of me in all of the male characters. I'm not sure how I could have written them otherwise. 

Q: Do you draw upon your military education for your battles or from general knowledge? 
A: From both, actually. 

Q: I find you're style similar to Ernest Hemingway in you're attention to detail. Do you consciously write this way, or do you find yourself just writing this way? I wish to write in the future after life's experiences and this would be of great assistance.
A: I simply write the way I write. I don't try to imitate anyone. I've certainly read--and still read--Hemingway, and admire most of his books but I think the person with the greatest influence on my style is Mark Twain. The trouble with that is that I've read a great many authors, and I can't say who has most influenced me over the years without my knowing it. 

Q: Is their any particular inspiration for the forsaken, and the other antagonists in your series, as their are for the women characters. Demandred and how he was always an inch behind Lews Therin (in the power, in swordsmanship etc...), for example, was their a particular inspiration for that? 
A: Well, there are--and i won't go into details because I want to keep the mythological and legendary roots hidden-- I don't want to have people spending more time discussing the legends than the stories! The thing is there are several legends and myths based on such jealousy, on the man who is just a half a step short of another man.. the woman who would have been the greatest of her age, but there was another who was just a bit better.. that sort of jealousy leads to the worst kind of hatred. When someone can easily defeat hyou, there's not that kind of jealousy but when he beats you in a photo finish every single time, that is when emotions begin to curdle and rancor sets in and you find yourself with this festering deep inside tthat can turn into murderous hatred. 

Q: The initaition rituals for raising an Accepted to Aes Sedai seem to be based upon some sort of real-life ceremonies. Where did you get the idea for the three passes through the ter'angreal? 
A: Trinities and threes and multiples of three or seven turn up again and again in mythologies and legends throughout the world and in ceremonies throughout the world. that part is hardly original. It's something that speaks to us on some deeper level. It's so prevelant, it must. It's all pervasive. 

Q: How much did your military experience influence your writing? 
A: Some, I suppose, but I don't know that it had any great influence. 

Q: Did you base any of the WOT characters on real life friends, or acquaintances? 
A: No, with one exception. All of the major female characters have some part of my wife in them. 

Q: How much did Tolkein, or even Edding's Belgariad chronicles influence the WOT series?  A: Edding certainly not at all, and as for Tolkein, only to the degree that (1) he showed that it was possible to write a very large series of books, a very large story, and (2) the fact that I purposely did the first, oh, perhaps 80 pages of "The Eye of the World" as an homage to Tolkein in a way, that it was set in the same sort of pastoral country that Tolkein wrote about. 

Q: Just curious, but what culture(s) were the Seanchan based on? 
A: A good deal of Japan, of the Shogunites, Imperial China, and in general a good many rigid hierarchal stratified societies. Too many to list really, I suppose. 

Q: Did you get any inspiration from Arthurian Legend? 
A: Quite a bit, along with other Celtic myths and Norse myths and African and Middle- Eastern, and Hindu and Chinese and Japanese and Native American and even Australian Aboriginal. Plus some others here and there to tell you the truth. 

Q: Did your purposefully use Neo-Pagan and New Age influences to develop the WOT series? 
A: Not knowingly no. I don't think so. 

Q: Are you saying all the characters are based on various cultures around the world? 
A: Bits and pieces sometimes. Not the characters, but the nations are sometimes based on bits and pieces of actual cultures and quite often it has nothing to do with any culture that I am aware of consciously. 

Q: Robert, do you see yourself as any of the characters? 
A: I see myself as whoever I happen to be writing at the moment. Other people have notions... they think I'm this character or that. I'm everybody. 

Q: I've only had a quick look at the guide so far, but I couldn't find much additional information on Mayene. Perhaps you could tell us which, if any, cultures you have based it on and what the people are like, apart from that they don't exactly seem to suffer from excessive modesty. ;)
A: Well, Mayene is based culturally on the cities of the Hanseatic league, as well as Venice and Genoa when those cities were world commercial powers and city-states in themselves. Of course, I didn't put anything into the guide that I wanted to come as a surprise in the books. You have to remember that. Which is one reason I gave quite as much as I did about the history of the world and considerably less about the "present day."

Q: Mr. Jordan, absolutely fascinating series -- I love it. How much do you feel you drew from the Bible in creating the Dragon character (i.e. Moses leading the Israelites from Egypt as opposed to Rand leading the Aiel from the Waste)?
A: I drew from everything that I have read in the past 40-odd years, including the Bible. It's very hard for me to say -- in most cases -- exactly what the sources were in any particular instance.

Q: You have mentioned that you intentionally tried to re-create some of the feel of Tolkien's Middle Earth, especially in the first book. Considering many of the similar elements between the stories and the fact that time in your world is cyclical, with heroes being reborn through the ages, did you intend to imply that Middle Earth could possibly be "An Age long past. An Age yet to come?"
A: Certainly not. In the first hundred pages of THE EYE OF THE WORLD, I did try to invoke a Tolkienesque feel. But after that I have certainly not tried to reflect in any way Middle Earth. As a matter of fact, beginning back in that very early part of THE EYE OF THE WORLD, I deliberately took off in a very different direction from Tolkien, and I've been running hard in that direction ever since.

Q: Mr. Jordan, I play a one of the best telnet games based on your books (cshadow.net port 4000). It runs as close to your books as we can get. My question is this: I play a Seanchan character and have for some time. What was your basis when creating the Seanchan race and the structure of their society? I enjoy the race completely and love the structure of its hierarchy and was just curious as to what they are created from in your mind. Thank you!
A: Imperial China. Japan during the shogunates, with strong dollops of the Persian Empire and the Ottoman.

Q: There are a lot of battles, wars, and great conflicts in your books. Did your military experiences influence that part of your writing?
A: To some extent, but mainly the thing that comes out of my experiences in the military is that I know what it's like when someone is trying to kill you. And I know that being in a battle is confusion. You know what you can see; you don't know what is happening beyond your sight. That's what comes from the military. 
To tell you the truth, the battles aren't nearly as interesting as the people. I like the interactions of the people--the character development, the way people play off one another.

Q: Are there particular historical eras that influence your stories?
A: Well, to give you an example of the way these things work... the Aiel. They have some bits of Japanese in them. Also some bits of the Zulu, the Berbers, the Bedouin, the Northern Cheyenne, the Apache, and some things that I added in myself. They are in no way a copy of any of these cultures, because what I do is say, "If A is true, what else has to be true about this culture? If B is true, what else has to be true?" And so forth.
In this way I begin to construct a logic tree, and I begin to get out of this first set of maybe10, maybe 30 things that I want to be true about this culture. I begin to get around an image of this culture, out of just this set of things, because these other things have to be true. Then you reach the interesting part, because this thing right here has to be true, because of these things up here. But, this thing right here has to be false, because of those things up there. Now, which way does it go, and why? You've just gotten one of the interesting things about the culture, one of the really interesting little quirks. 
To me, that in itself is a fascinating thing--the design of a culture. So that's how the Aiel came about. There are no cultures that are a simple lift of Renaissance Italy or 9th-century Persia or anything else. All of them are constructs.

Q: Are there any characters in the books that are based on historical figures?
A: No. The groups are sometimes in ways based on historical organizations. The White Cloaks have a lot of, say, Teutonic Knights. The Aes Sedai organization comes from the way convents were organized between A.D. 1000 and 1800, a time when there was real political power behind convents. 
There is one real-life individual who has contributed a lot. My wife has given me, involuntarily, at least one major character trait for all of the major female characters in the books. I'm very mean to her, I won't tell her which character traits I have taken.
Comment: That's probably wise.
A: As she has pointed out to me, she knows where I sleep! So I consider it wise not to upset her, if I can avoid it.

Q: I've noticed the influence of Stephen Donaldson in the WOT. Has he been a great influence? 
A: No. I'm really surprised.

Q: What cultures and socieities did you base Saldaea on? And <nervous grin>, is the sa'sara supposed to be a sort of belly-dance? <duck> 
A: RobertJordan: Saldaea is based, in part, on a number of middle eastern cultures and several cultures in countries surrounding the Black Sea. In part. The sa'sara, now...
You'll need a certificate from your doctor, a note from your mother and a certificate of health for whoever you intend to dance it for before I can give you any more information beside the name.

Q: Ive notice a bit of an influence from the Star Wars series...is there any truth to this? 
A: (lol) No. I don't read Star Wars books.

Q: Do you put any of your friends or your personal character traits into your characters? 
A: No, none of my friends, none of me. There is a touch of my wife in all of the major female characters, however, and a good many of the secondary female characters. She's a very complex woman.

Q: I've noticed a lot of the names in your books are based of historical cultures. Which culture do you think has influenced your books the most?
A: I think it's a toss-up between the ancient Celts, the Japanese of the Shogunates, and France of the 17th Century. But then, there are a lot of bits and pieces that have come from a great many sources. I'm not truthfully certain that the three that I gave you really ARE the greatest influences.

Q: how much of Jesus Christ is there in Rand? We have the wounded palms, side wound, crown of swords...How representational of JC is Rand? 
A: Rand has some elements of Jesus Christ, yes. But he is intended more to be a general "messiah figure." An archetype such as Arthur, rather than a manifestation of Jesus Christ in any way.

Q: has your background in physics and as a member of the US army influenced your books?  A: It could hardly help having done so.

Q: Who is your greatest inspiration?? your greatest influence? 
A: I really hav to list five authors I believe are the greatest influence on me. Louis L'Amour...Jane Austen...John D. MacDonald...Charles Dickens...and Mark Twain.

Q: I liked the Conan book you did. On your listed mention of authros who most influenced you, you did not list Robert E. Howard. Is there a reason? 
A: He didn't influence me, that's why. I enjoyed reading the stories when I was a boy and I enjoyed writing the Conan novels, but Howard was never an influence on my style.

Q: You mention different accents, like the Taraboner and Murandian, as well as the slurred speech of the Seanchan. Are any of these accents and dialects at all comparable to those in this world, and if so, which ones sound like which? 
A: To some degree, some of them are like accents from this world. It would be a bit much to go into here to discuss which ones are like which. Let your mind go free.

Q: I'm impressed by the scene details, especially the towns, what were your best research resources
A: Too many to go into...forty odd years of reading and studying and traveling... really, too many to go into.

Q: Do you ever use your experiences in Vietnam in your stories? 
A: Yes, indirectly. I know what it's like to have somebody trying to kill you. I know what it's like to try to kill somebody. And I know what it's like to actually kill somebody. These things I think help with writing about people being in danger, [or] especially if it's in danger of violence ... which happens occasionally in my books. 

Q: Is "Ogier" from to sing Ogier? 
A: No. It's to sound like Ogre but not be exactly the same.

Q: As a man who served tours of duty in Vietnam, how does your epic reflect your own personal experience with war, and how difficult is this for you to write about? 
A: It really doesn't reflect any of my own experiences, except that I know what it is like to have someone trying to kill you. I don't try to write about Vietnam; I thought I would, once, but now I don't believe I could make myself. But I know the confusion, uncertainty, and outright ignorance of anything you can't see that exists once the fighting starts; I don't think war will ever become sufficiently high-tech to completely dispel "the fog of war." So I can put these sensations into my writing. 

Q: It has been said that the elaborate and rich descriptions you use to create your worlds and characters bring your stories to life. Where do your descriptions come from? Are any of your characters based on real people? 
A: The descriptions come from years of reading history, sociology, cultural anthropology, almost everything I could get my hands on in any and every subject that caught my eye. Including religion and mythology, of course—necessities for a fantasy writer, though I went at them first simply because I wanted to. It all tumbles together in my head, and out comes what I write. I don't try to copy cultures or times, only to make cultures that are believable. I can't explain it any better than that. 
I don't base characters on real people. With one exception, at least. Every major female character and some of the minor have at least a touch of my wife, Harriet. I won't tell her which bits in which women, though. After all, what if she didn't like it? She knows where I sleep. 

Q: What does your fan mail tell you of the chords you've struck to create such a devoted following?                     
A: In large part, that I've created characters people believe in. One fairly common comment is that the reader knows somebody just like Mat or Nynaeve or whoever, or that they feel they could meet them around the next corner. Character is very important to me; story flows from character. Also, I suspect that the strong interweaving of mythologies from a number of cultures plays a part, too. Modern society—at least in the West—pretends that we have outgrown the need for myth and legend, but people seem to hunger for them. Where we have forgotten our myths we create new ones, although today we don't realize what we are doing. But then, maybe people never did truly realize what they were doing in making myth; perhaps it has always been an unconscious act. The cultural trappings surrounding myth and legend vary widely by country, but if they are stripped to the bare core you find among them the same stories repeated over and over around the world. However different their cultures, customs, and mores, people share many of the same needs, hopes, and fears. Anyway, I believe there is a strong echo of myth and legend in my writing, and I think people feel that. 

Q: First off, major compliments for sharing your beautiful creation with us. Second off, how do you come up with your character's/cities' names? Most of the names do not sound like traditional fantasy names, did you do this conciousl yin order to create a work that was not like the 'norm'?
A: Yes. I didn't want to simply copy what's gone before. There are some things that are reminiscent, certainly, and I can't say that every name is unlike what might be called "traditional fantasy names," but I definitely wanted names that were different.

Q: First, I thoroughly enjoy the wheel of time series. Is there an actaul form of martial arts that inspired the "sword forms" and are the forms you mention in the books part of this art or are they you own creation.
A: The sword forms described in the book are my own creation, but they are based in part on the Japanese art of the sword, and also on fencing as it developed, when it was well on its way to becoming a martial art as we define them today (when it was developing in the Renaissance).

Q: Did you get inspiration for Be'lal's name from Paradise Lost? (ie, the fallen angel Belial)
A: Among other places, yes.

Q: What inspired the Forsaken?
A: A great many things -- but in large part, people who are willing to do anything at all for their personal aggrandizement.

Q: Sir, I truly enjoy reading the sword fighting scenes, could you give us some background information on where you got the names for the various Forms used?
A: The names are creations of my own. But they're based on Japanese and Chines techniques and European techniques pre gun powder.

Q: Mr. Jordan, as a witch I would like to thank and compliment you on your explanation of the elemental powers
A: I've been reading about elemental powers for years, glad you like it

Q: An odd question, What exactly does it mean when you describe the clothing in wheel of time as being 'blue slashed with cream', is there any historical dress in that still to get a more acurate picture of how you describe it?
A: Yes. There is a historical dress much like it. A gap that can close or open. It's been used throughout European history

Q: Did you draw on folklore and mythologies for your books? Specifically, Mat as a paralell to Odin, with his spear that has Thought and Memory on it (Odin's raven's) and the distinct possibility that he's gonna lose an eye sometime soon?
A: I've tried to reverse engineer myths and legends as if this was a game of whispers. By the time the whispers travels around the room it changes. The legends of the world today are what the last child said. I'm trying to remember what was on the original paper. Yes, Odin, Yes Ran has Arthur in him. But the stories have changed so the legends are ultimately not at all alike

Q: What religions have influenced your creation of the Creator and the Dark One?
A: Christianity. Islam. Judaism. And bits of heretical writing within those faiths. I hasten to add I'm not endorsing anything. I'm just a writer.I tell stories.

Q: Were you influenced by the Bible book of Revelation? Your works seem to have many scriptural allusions.
A:
There are a number of influences from the Bible, but from other sources as well. My work is not overtly religious in any way.

Q: I see that many of the story lines are derived (from) mythology around the world. Which culture do you draw from more?
A: I'm not certain that I draw from any one culture more than others. Many myths and legends of many different cultures are really the same story when you get to the heart of it. They are often cultural cautionary tales about how we should behave and how we should live.

Q: Was the name of Far Madding a literary allusion to An Elegy in a Country Churchyard?
A: No. That straight-out answer shocked you, didn't it?

Q: Where do you come up with the original spelling of the names of the characters?
A: Some of them come out of myths and legends. And others come because the sound is somewhat familiar, or because I like the sound of the name.

Q: Is it true that many of your chracters are based on Norse mythos?
A: Not many. Some. And no character is purely based on one myth or one legend.

(A question about how Jordan came up with his names)
A: Nynaeve is the name of the nymph who in some versions of the Arthur Legend, imprisoned Merlin.
Amyrlin is of course a play on Merlin, as is Thom Merrilin, a play on Merlin, and Rand al'Thor is a play on Arthur, as well as on Thor, but then so is Arthur Hawkwing a play on Arthur, because as I said before it's not a retelling of the myths... As things are done by in the myth, in the legend, if things were done by one man, were actually in both done by several perhaps and had become inflated in time. But the names come from everywhere. I read the ... in the new york times, or the london times, or something mis-seen on the street, I see, I catch a sign from the corner of my eye, and I misread a word on the sign because I only see it out of the corner of my eyes.
And I jot it down, because it sounded like a good name.

Q: Are the parallels between cultures conscious?
A: Well, the parallels are conscious, but I've taken, I've tried to take come care that there's no exact duplication. There are bits from this culture and this historical period, and this sort of other culture and other historical period, fitted together to make this culture or that culture. You cannot look at the Sea Folk for instance and say 'Oh yes, ah well, that's from India. That is the culture of Japan, or India, or China, or England, or whatever.' Because there is no single culture in that way. The Aiel (eye-eel) for example have bits of Zulu, and bits of Apache, and bits of Cheyenne Indians, and bits of Bedouin and bits of Japanese cultures, and also some things that I simply thought would be neat. ... So I could fit them into the culture.
Q: Which cultures in the Seanchan? (based on things in the Guide)
The Seanchan also are the melting of things that have come from many different human cultures to make their culture. There have been many rigid stratified, rigidly hierarchal cultures. It's a very human thing. The concept of being able to climb above your station is a relatively new one in human culture. You were born where you were born for a reason, and that is the place you will stay, that has been the norm for human culture, for most of history.
I mean, even thr groups.. the Whitecloaks are the people who know the truth. Not just truth, they know Truth, they know Veritas, they know Truth with a capital T, they're the Taliban, the Klu Klux Klan, they're the poeple who know the truth and you must believe their truth or they will kill you. but they're not the Taiban, they're not the Teutonic Knights, they're not the Klu Klux Klan. They are simply that concept.

It's hard really for a figure that I've been researching for the Wheel of Time. I see things, I notice things. I realize 'I can use this.' An example I've used to you before, but it's a good one, is that [after leaving Tanchico, Nynaeve and Elayne needed] traveling companions. I wanted them to travel with some people, rather than by themselves. I wasn't too sure exactly what sort of group I was going to use. And I happened to go to the circus.
And the circus happened to have a lot of acts that .. from Asia. I don't know why they seemed to have such a disproportionate number of acts from Asia. They were much different than most European circus acts and American circus acts, which are very similar to European circus acts. And when I went to my desk the next morning, I realized I knew exactly how Elayne and Nynaeve were going to travel. With Valan Luca's show. I have read for close on to fifty years, everything I could get my hands on. Various bits and pieces have been stuck in my head. And I use them. And sometimes... and if I see anything that's interesting, and a lot of things interest me, cultural anthropology, development of cities, how a windmill works, how does a waterhwheel work? these things interest me, as much as how a modern day skyscraper is built, or how do you go about building a base on the moon, or how do you go about building an industrial facility in an L5-point. Sometimes I do research and then.. Well, I know nothing about blacksmithing really... [followed by that story you've heard before]
No matter what you know, if you're an expert blacksmith, I want you to read right past that blacksmith scene, and believe it. And of course very few people will be expert blacksmiths, but that's fine. Because no matter what the scene is, I want you to believe it. No matter what your own knowledge is.

Q: where do you get your inspiration from?
A: i get my inspiration from almost fifty years of reading everything i can get my hands on and thinking of everything i read.

Q: Mr. Jordan, do you weave (existing) mythology or archetypes in your books?
A: yes, i weave existing mythology into my books but I reverse engineer it rather then simply retell.

Q: Are the names "Dragon", "Coramoor" and "Car'a'carn" based on chess openings
A: No
( This surprised me, there has been a thread around here in which was stated that Dragon , Caro-Kann and the Coramorant (I'm not sure of the last one) are chess openings. If he had answered with a yes then I would have asked why because they're all variants played by black and rather defensive but I needn't )

Reports from signings

All the women are based in part on his wife. Many women have been amazed that he was not a woman using a male pen name because he writes women so well. He just wrote them as he thought women would be if men had destroyed the world 3000 years ago. Obviously, their roles would be much different than they are in our society. The women are not based on Southern women in general, just his wife.

He made the Aiel look Irish because he thought it was kind of funny. He doesn't like the fact that hardened desert warriors are always described as looking a certain way, so he used the opposite description. He intentionally started the series out kind of Tolkienesque, so that readers would feel like they already knew the land somewhat. Then he delibrately deviated from Tolkien so the readers would not know what to expect. He tried to avoid too much Arthurian and Celtic mythologic references early on because they are so well known. 

His influence from Mark Twain, mainly Tom Sawyer and Hucklyberry Finn, he said was in the dialogue. Every person was given a rather natural, personal way of speaking, separate from the "chanting" found in other fantasy or pre-20th-century novels.

The Aiel were based on bits of the apache, zulu, bedouin, and arab(?) cultures. Nothing starting here, but I don't think we've had this one answered as a complete list before. It was fired off really fast, so I may have missed some...

Where did ideas come from?
o "What if you were tapped on the shoulder and told you had to save the world?"
o What are the sources of myths? "reverse-engineered" legends.
o The game of "telephone" (he calls it "whisper").
Proud of the little things that slip up on you, like Callandor being "The Sword in the Stone."

Evidently, China was a real behemoth in the middle ages, right on the track to world domination, until they decided they didn't really want to rule the world.  The following is a summary from hastily scribbled notes on a subject about which I am relatively ignorant; if I fuck up, it means I can't read my notes.
1484: In the time before Columbus...
China has a huge fleet of ships (3000 of them, half-million crew), printing presses, generally huge technological advantage over everywhere else.  The fleet is commanded by a name that translates as "Three-Jeweled Eunuch" 
(although he was evidently not a eunuch??).  The fleet had superior logistics (well, something about logistics right about here) and had reached Madasgascar.  They were planning to round the Cape of Good Hope and see what they found.
1490: The year they would have reached Europe... and overwhelmed it. Unfortunately, bad things happened. The current Emperor died and was succeeded by his son, who was young and had self-confidence problems. The
palace eunuchs (evidently a powerful political force) grew concerned over the changes caused by outside influences, believing them to be corrupting Chinese culture. They convinced the Emperor to shut China off from the rest of the world by burning seafaring boats (including that huge fleet!), restricting foreigners to certain cities and killing them if they were caught outside, and killing Chinese who left to see the world and then returned. It seems the Japanese also did this -- twice, in fact.
This was a very long spiel coming from the nonfiction military history books he recommended.  There was a lot more detail than I managed to capture, but one thing that stood out in my mind was that he had just told us the origins of Shara and the Seanchan.  Or some of them, at least.

He has no particular real world inspiration for the One Power, at least not that he knows of.  He admits that he's read a lot of stuff and at times forgets a source here and there.

Q: Have you ever studied comparative religion? (influenced WoT, inspiration, etc.)
A: No. RJ did make a comment on how he never studied comparative religion, but rather lived it (he put forth a list of people that he knew in his life, with each person being a different religion. Sorry, I couldn’t write it down, since it was much too fast, and 80+ people in a small bookstore are LOUD)

[first sentence paraphrased.. only started taping again halfway through this] I don't know how it in other places, but the best known legend for the american audience, that I had in mind .. when I wrote this for .. that legend is King Arthur. I would imagine that more people know the complete story of King Arthur and Guenever and the round table and the whole nine yards than know any other myth or legend, or perhaps more than know all the other myths put together. Now there are Arthurian elements in these books, but I had to try to bury them, for that reason, make them not so readily apparent. And while I had a particular part of the Arthurian legend mentioned form the first book, it was not until the third book that people began to realize what it was. In fact my editor, who is my wife, and who is a very very sharp woman uhm, had edited the book and was writing the first version of the flap copy for the book, when she suddenly shouted down the stairs to me (if you're young, forgive me) :
[loud] You son of a bitch, you've done it it to me again! [laughter]
Because she had suddenly spotted, not until reaching this.. not until reaching the cover flap, she suddenly spotted by a .. chance connection of words, this one particular Arthurian thing. [Jordan never mentioned what this was, but the logical option is of course Callandor.]
And that you see, to me it's very obvious that the Arthur Legend and all of the others are in there. If you spend time on the net, you find sites where they discuss these legends. [People sitting around me knowingly chuckle] I have to tell you that if you visit any of these FAQ's... I haven't seen one in a couple of years, but the last time I was sent copies, I've read the printout of the FAQ, and when I was through it. And about a third of the answers in there were correct. Also interesting was that tied in with all this somehow, he mentioned getting stacks of paper from fans, about things on the internet. And then he looked directly at me (or at least, as far as I could judge with those sunglasses.) Damn, how did he know that?

Are Whitecloaks based on the Klu Klux Clan?
Amongst others. Any group that believes to know the Truth with a capital T and want you to believe the same. Mostly it's based on groups like the Teutonic Knights however, since they don't hide behind anything. The Church in the early christian days, like the Taliban now, are people who know the Truth, and they will kill you if you don't believe the truth.
He did not pick up bits and pieces of groups like the KKC, but the Whitecloaks are simply that, a group of people who know the truth, Veritas.

Raina's Hold / Thus Spake The Creator - Index
 

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