|Thus Spake The Creator
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
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
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
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
Q: Does living in such an old and unique house aid you
in coming up with ideas?
Q: Are any of your charachters based on anyone you
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
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 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
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
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
Q: I noticed that your other pen name is Sean O'Neal.
Did you draw Matt's "Band of the Red Hand" from
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
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
Q: Have you ever put your own personality in one of
your characters, or do you liken yourself to one of your
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
A: Some, I suppose, but I don't know that it had any
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
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
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.
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
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."
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
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
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?"
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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?
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
A: (lol) No. I don't read Star Wars
Q: Do you put any of your
friends or your personal character traits into your
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
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
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
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
Q: Is "Ogier" from to sing Ogier?
A: No. It's to sound like Ogre but not be exactly the
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
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
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
coursenecessities 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 societyat least in the
Westpretends 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
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
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
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
A: Yes. There is a historical dress much like it. A gap
that can close or open. It's been used throughout
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
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
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
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,
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
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 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
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
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
( 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
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
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"
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
(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,
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 couldnt 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
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
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